Blood Simple is the directorial debut of the clever and the amazing Coen Brothers. The Coen Brothers’ first film is a dark, suspenseful tale of lies, deceit, greed, and love. The plot features two lovers, Ray (John Getz) and Abby (Frances McDormand), who are deeply in love, but there is a small problem: Abby happens to be married. Who is Abby married to? Abby is married to Ray’s boss, Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya). Marty catches wind of the affair and decides to hire private investigator Loren Visser (M. Emmett Walsh). Visser is tasked with spying on the couple for Marty. Visser gains evidence that the two are indeed an item. Marty becomes angry and gets Visser to murder the couple. Visser agrees for a price, but ultimately, fakes the job by taking a photograph and cropping it. While he’s in the couple’s house, he steals Abby’s gun. When Visser meets with Marty to get his money, he murders Marty with Abby’s gun. After the murder, everything goes downhill as Ray discovers Marty’s body and wonders if Abby was behind it after discovering her gun. Ray becomes paranoid and tries to cover up everything to save her. When Ray and Abby get back together, they have a fatal showdown with Visser.
The Coen Brothers start the pace of the film very slowly, but gives us the viewers the sense that everything will eventually go wrong. When everything does go wrong, the Coen Brothers make it a beautiful, suspenseful mess. When Ray starts cleaning up the blood surrounding Marty’s body, the Coens make it look like an never-ending task as there’s blood everywhere and the Coens love their blood. It’s obvious with the blood in this scene and in a later dream sequence that Abby has before the showdown with Visser. The Coens do a great job of lighting in this film to build suspense. Two good examples from the film would be the scene of Ray trying to dispose of Marty’s body and the scene of Abby avoiding gunshots being fired through the wall by Visser. Ray decides to bury Marty’s body out in a field that is near a road. While Ray is maneuvering Marty’s body out of the car, a truck is shown from a distance coming closer and closer to where Ray is at with the body. The Coens shows shots of the truck’s headlights and of Ray to heighten the fear and paranoia that is inside of Ray. Ray turns Marty’s body away from the truck as it drives by to keep himself from getting into trouble. The scene where Abby is avoiding gunshots is intriguing as the room is fully dark and as each bullet comes through the wall, a light comes through to let us know that Visser is in the adjacent room beside the room that Abby is in. Another great way that the Coens build suspense is by lowering the sound of the film’s score during certain scenes such as the scene where the bullets are coming through the wall at Abby. The Coens also feature shots of Visser’s lighter. Usually when an object is shown in a film, the object is of importance, but…not in this movie. The Coens are just teasing us.
The Coens’ debut is certainly an enjoyable film. A great story that has plenty of suspense to keep viewers on their toes. It has a tad bit of dark humor as well to give viewers some relief from the unrelenting, dark story. It’s definitely a movie that folks should check out.