M. Emmett Walsh
Set in a small, sweaty Texas town, Blood Simple deals with a woman, her lover, her husband, and a hired private investigator. There is Abby (Frances McDormand), who is having an affair with Ray (John Getz), a bartender at her husbandís (Dan Hedaya) dump. First it seems logical enough for Marty to hire a PI to confirm his suspicions. Then he asks the man (M. Emmett Walsh) to do a ďnot strictly legalĒ job: kill the lovers. Five grand per body comes out to $10,000.
There are double crosses, doctored photos and a Zippo left under a pile of dead fish. People slip up; go about their circumstances with wrong information; imagine the dead alive. Thatís all this review is willing to expose--the turns are just too good.
Blood Simple (1985) is the Coen Bros.í first film and, though wood chippers, Nihilists and Anton Chigurh would be in their future, itís one of their most tense efforts. One of many moments that stands out is the one where a man presumed dead lies in a fresh hole. He raises his arm and points a pistol at the head of the man holding a shovel. The camera stays on the barrel for what feels like minutes. No matter how many times I see the scene, Iím sure it will end with that gun going off. There is an earlier scene where a hidden .38 unexpectedly goes off, firing a bullet into a manís chest. Itís one of the first great jokes the Coens ever played on us.
Blood Simple got everyoneís attention. It won big at both Sundance and the Independent Spirit Awards and plucked Joel and Ethan out of obscurity (Joel had worked as an editor on Sam Raimiís Evil Dead, which tracks the inspiration for some of the camerawork and gore). There is a cult for The Big Lebowski and Oscars for No Country for Old Men, but for me, Blood Simple is the best show the Coen Bros. ever put on. Itís like watching a bunch of mosquitoes dance around a bug zapper at dusk and betting on which drops first.