Picks and Pans Review: Blood Simple
And they complained about Body Double! Just wait until the "Oh, no, it's blood" crowd starts racing for the exits after this one starts. Those who remain, however, will be rewarded with a thriller that's fresh, frightening and fiendishly funny. Independently made on a shoestring budget (about $1.5 million), Blood Simple marks a remarkable debut for two brothers from Minneapolis—director Joel Coen, 30, and producer Ethan Coen, 27. The pair collaborated on the script about a surly Texas bar owner (Dan Hedaya), his roving wife (Frances McDormand), the sexy bartender she slips out with (John Getz) and the fat detective (M. Emmet Walsh) whom the husband hires to kill the cheating couple. Things go haywire, just as in pulp fiction from James Cain to Dashiell Hammett, but the Coens and their brilliant cameraman, Barry Sonnenfeld, don't just shake up the lurid detective genre, they give it the roller coaster ride of its life. A footfall, a fan, a newspaper tossed against a window—all of them take on terrifying dimensions. The climax is a gruesome gag worthy of Hitchcock. The actors are fine, but Walsh, whose face is recognizable from Straight Time and Reds, is terrific. There hasn't been a creepier screen menace since Robert Mitchum's mad minister in Night of the Hunter 30 years ago. Walsh's last chilling laugh is the stuff of bad dreams. (R)
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