We meet the world’s saddest homeless man. Homelessness is already sad to begin with, but this guy just seems so solitary and dejected. He’s sleeping in his car one day when a kindly police officer swings by to deliver some rough news: the man who murdered his parents has just been released from prison.
Oh, we think. That’s why.
But then homeless guy springs into action; he’s clearly been plotting or waiting or both all along. There’s a plan, and it’s in motion. You think revenge will be sweet, but actually, revenge is messy. Very, very messy. Remember that.
Macon Blair plays Dwight, the sad-eyed homeless guy you won’t soon forget. He’s the exact opposite of what you think a blood-lusting revenge monster will look like, and that’s why this movie stands out from the crowd. He hasn’t spent the last ten years doing push ups and tattooing plans to his torso. He isn’t nimble with weapons and if he had access to tiny bottles of liquor he’d probably drink them surreptitiously while sitting in a quiet diner booth rather than tape their broken fragments to his knuckles. He’s an anti-action star and an anti-hero…but that doesn’t mean we don’t root for him. It just means we’re probably messed up for doing it.
But that’s what makes writer/director Jeremy Saulnier kind of a genius. He finds truth in the fundamentals, stripping this down to its bare bones and exposing the ugliness to the air, where the stench is palpable and we’re often dared to look away. It’s a little unpredictable even within the confines of its genre, and definitely an exercise in elevating your heart beat while you sit pinned to your couch.
This movie defied my expectations and made me like it even when I felt I shouldn’t. And when you’re done being “entertained” (a strange word to use in the face of such determined bloodshed), you might just find there’s a message hidden in the body count, and it’s not the one we’re used to hearing from Hollywood.
Well done, you vengeful vagabond.