It’s encouraging to see a film like this get made from a Kickstarter fund, especially so when it’s as daring and innovative as this. It’s a violent revenge thriller with an interesting philosophical angle, and while its attempts to straddle both arthouse and genre positions don’t quite work all the time, it’s still a startling and commendable breakthrough film for director Jeremy Saulnier. The slow-burning realism and rich sense of irony put me in mind of early Coen brothers films, and the lack of anyone recognisable in it makes it somehow more compelling – almost like an arty documentary that keeps taking a turn for the nasty.

While there are also influences from Tarantino throughout, the attitude to violence is far from frivolous – it’s a film that delicately highlights the futility of revenge, using its manufactured suspense to question why anyone should ever do anything violent to another person. It goes a little far with this at times – ending on a note that strives for profundity but comes across as more pretentious than anything else, but its dark humour and beautifully evoked pathos from lead actor Macon Blair mark this out as original enough to keep an eye on everyone involved.

Sudden, startling bursts of tension throughout8
A dense grasp of the irony of its situations9
Maintaining a pitch-black sense of humour8
Attempting to say something vague about the human capacity for violence3
Making something as good as this from a Kickstarter fund9
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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