One thing that always bugs me about the Hollywood revenge thriller is how perfectly everything is planned and executed. No matter how deeply the character has been wronged, they always seem to exact their revenge in an organized fashion, the neatness of the details contrasting the messiness of the violence they unleash. What made this such a compelling watch, to me, was how far it strayed from those conventions, shattering the mold to give us an unlikely hero that is as unsure of his actions as he is unprepared to handle their consequences. Macon Blair is marvelous in the lead role, telling most of the story not with words but facial expressions and body language. Jeremy Saulnier’s script is bare bones and extremely effective, his direction steady and confident. And having been a steady cinematographer previous to this, he also frames the film with a very keen eye, adding beautiful compositions to his brutal story. The suspense is cranked up like an old amplifier and the violence explodes out of nowhere like the opening notes from the type of death metal band you may have seen in his subsequent film, Green Room. This is a very well made movie about a very unwell situation, handled with far more grace than its characters are capable of. Revenge is a messy business, but perhaps cleaning up that mess can reveal something essential, in both art and life.