ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUDIO: English 2.0 DTS HD-MA
SUBTITLES: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer
AUDIO COMMENTARY: By Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Films
A murder-for-hire plot goes awry, pulling a cheating wife and her boyfriend into a life and death struggle where double-crosses and plot twists await behind every corner.
Director: Joel Coen
Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen
This masterful modern film noir was the first of the Coen Brothers’ films, and it shows flashes of the style and ingenuity that would define their later films. Released in 1985, Blood Simple is a low budget thriller that shows just what a filmmaker can do when they have more imagination than money. The premise is actually nothing special: a disgruntled husband hires a hit man to kill his unfaithful wife. In the hands of the Coen brothers, however, it becomes so much more.
The script takes a number of turns, and thanks to some exceptional character development, even the more outrageous decisions the characters make seem rational. Every mistake the characters make compounds things and builds the tension to an incredible finale. The Coen brothers string you along, allowing you to see just enough to know what is happening, or what will happen, leaving the viewer powerless to d anything about it. It makes for a very entertaining story, and not one frame of film is spent on anything but moving the story along.
The film is shot beautifully, and edited to make the most of the suspense. Frances McDormand would star in the film, starting a partnership with Joel Coen, on and off the screen, that would eventually net her a Best Actress Oscar for Fargo.
Smart, quirky, and expertly acted by McDormand, Dan Hedaya, and M. Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple stands heaad and shoulders above other so-called thrillers that have come after. Invoking the spirit of Hitchcock without actually ripping him off, this lean and focused film should be studied by film students who should learn that every scene, every line, and every shot should not go to waste.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
According to reports, this film was made in 1984 with a budget of less than $1 million. Given that, I did not expect the film print for this movie to be exceptional. The video transfer for this Blu-ray, however, is quite good. The only drawback is the highly visible film grain evident in the image. While it does affect the sharpness and detail, resulting in a bit of a soft image, the print is otherwise clean of debris and shows nice color. The audio is DTS 2.0 HD-MA, and sounds very good, showing good clarity.
A theatrical trailer and an audio commentary is all you get here, which is disappointing considering the acclaim for the film. An actor portraying “Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Films” provides a tongue-in-cheek commentary, providing outlandish (and totally false) stories about the film’s production. Supposedly written by the Coen Brothers, the commentary can be funny at times, but overall wears thin pretty quickly.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: B
This is a must own for fans of the Coen Brothers. Sporting a good, but not pristine video transfer, the film looks much better than previous releases. The lack of special features hurts, and makes this a RENT over buying it for everyone but the most hardcore Coen Brothers fans. Everyone else should wait until more extras, specifically a real commentary, are added.
Blood Simple is now available from MGM/Fox Home Video.