Film / Blood Simple.

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"Down here, you're on your own."

Blood Simple. is a 1984 Neo-Noir thriller about a Texas bar-owner who is certain that his wife is cheating on him and hires a private detective to spy on her. But that's only the beginning.

Written and directed by The Coen Brothers, this was their debut film and features many of their odd trademarks. The cast includes Frances McDormand, John Getz, Dan Hedaya, and M. Emmett Walsh.


This film provides examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Abby with Visser in the movie's final minutes.
  • Arc Symbol: Fans are cropping up in various places.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Abby manages to fight off and kill Visser.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Abby flees from Visser through her bathroom window into the next room.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The "heroes" are a selfish adulterous couple, one of whom buries a man alive. The villains? Wooh boy...
  • Buried Alive: Ray does this to Marty, more out of panic — he's discovered that Marty's still alive after assuming Abby shot him to death — than sadism.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted. It's a vital part of the plot that the characters keep losing or forgetting about the various items presented to us, the viewers, as obvious Plot Coupons.
    • There's also an actual gun, namely the pearl-handled .38 owned by the heroine. The number of bullets it contains is also a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Meurice, in confronting Ray over what he thinks is his ransacking of Marty's safe, takes a cigarette out of Ray's mouth because "these things are nothing but coffin nails." But right afterwards, as he is walking away, Meurice lights up himself.
  • Conversation Casualty: Visser shoots Marty during their talk.
  • Counting Bullets: The observing audience can count along. Early on we see Abby check for bullets in her purse — she has just three.
    • Visser uses the first bullet on Marty.
    • Ray fires the second by accidentally kicking it.
    • Marty pulls the trigger 3 times at Ray before being buried alive, none of the chambers containing a bullet.
    • That leaves 1 bullet and 1 chamber. Of course, Abby has no way of knowing this when pulling the trigger on Visser.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The finale plays out in the darkened living room of Abby's apartment.
  • Daydream Surprise: Abby believes that Marty appears in her apartment, but it turns out to be a dream.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Seemingly played straight with Visser's refusal to murder the couple. Averted later when he has no problem killing them to protect himself.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Inverted. Abby's dog's happy reaction is what makes her realize Marty's in the house.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Ray and Aby discuss who takes the couch at Ray's place.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Visser.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The first we see of Marty are his boots resting on his desk.
  • Film Noir
  • Gallows Humour: This is a Coen Brothers film, after all.
  • Gambit Pileup: Visser wanted to get the money, kill Marty, and frame Abby for murder so he stole and left her gun at the scene. But then Ray showed up, saw the gun and mistakenly believed that Abby killed him.
  • Good Is Dumb: While Ray may not be conventionally "good," he's about as close as a film noir character gets. And he has got to be about the dumbest character every to wander into a crime movie.
  • Groin Attack: Abby kicks Marty in the balls when the latter attacks her.
  • The Hyena: Detective Visser.
  • Hyper Awareness: Totally averted, causing the loss of Chekhov's Guns.
  • Impaled Palm: Abby nails Visser's hand to a windowsill with a steak knife.
  • In the Style of...: In the background of an early bar scene, you can hear a country-and-western version of the theme from Chariots of Fire.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Subverted. Played straight when The private eye shoots Marty. but later shown to be a rather horrific aversion when he regains consciousness just in time to be buried alive
  • Ironic Death: Subverted. When Ray thinks of a way how to dispose of Marty's body, he throws a glance at the incinerator, the very place he himself was meant to end up in. To our surprise he doesn't go through with the idea.
  • Irony: The film made a point of showing the "Employees must Wash their Hands" sign. The irony was Visser was washing his hands of his employers murder - by framing Ray and Abby.
  • Killing In Self Defense: When Abby manages to fight off and kill Visser.
  • Last Name Basis: No one ever calls Marty by his first name, Julian.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To a line from Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest in which "blood simple" is a term coined to describe the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The period in the title.
  • Mugging the Monster: Insulting Visser turns out very badly for Marty.
  • New Old West: Like several of the Coens' films.
  • No Name Given: M. Emmet Walsh's scene stealing Private Detective is actually named Loren Visser.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Subverted in that it is someone else she is confronting.
  • Opening Monologue: Visser gives one.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Abby and Ray could have avoided a lot of trouble if they had just talked to each other.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Delivered by the victim. After Abby shoots him and says "I'm not afraid of you, Marty" (she hasn't seen that it's Visser and believes it to be Marty back from the dead), Visser bursts into laughter and proclaims: "Well Ma'am if I see him, I'll give him the message."
  • Psycho for Hire: Visser initially comes across as little more than a buffoonish, washed-out private investigator, but he turns out to be a murderous double crosser who's happy to play hitman if the price is right, and then some.
  • Ransacked Room: Visser searches and turns over Marty's entire office, looking for the photo.
  • Re Cut: The Coens have quipped that this is the first film in Hollywood history for which the Director's Cut actually REMOVES material.
  • The Remake / Foreign Remake: Zhang Yimou remade this film in 2010 as A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop. It was widely criticized for its replacement of the Black Comedy from the original with broad slapstick violence. The Coens liked it, though, and joked that they should remake Raise the Red Lantern in return.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Discussed, and inverted. Oh Lord, how it's inverted.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Used by Visser to get into Ray's house.
  • Stress Vomit: Invoked. When Marty learns that Abby and Ray are dead he used the bathroom, pretending to vomit but really just replaces a photograph in the envelope.
  • Time Passes Montage: A shot from Ray's window dissolved from night to day.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ray, and he doesn't either.
  • The Voice: An uncredited Holly Hunter as Helene, who leaves a message on Meurice's answering machine.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Once.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Twice.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The heroine, of all people.

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