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Film / I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

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I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a dark comedy/crime thiller written and directed by indie actor Macon Blair in his directorial debut. The film stars Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood as Ruth and Tony, two loners who decide to strike back at the general indecency of the world after Ruth's home is burglarized.

The film premiered on Netflix in February, 2017.

Tropes include:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Tony is just terrible with his throwing stars, so when he gets one lodged in Dez face in the finale, he's the most surprised person in the room.
  • Animal Assassin: Ruth kills Marshall by knocking him into a pond, where he is bitten to death by a water moccasin snake that Ruth herself had narrowly avoided earlier.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Invoked. After being set up as a creepy and dangerous threat, Christian Jr. is the first of the crooks to die when his attempt at intimidating Ruth backfires and leads to his windpipe being accidentally crushed and his body being flattened by a bus within minutes.
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  • Asshole Victim: All three of the crooks and Christian Rumack Sr.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Christian Jr. enters a party and starts robbing the house, despite being in his early 20s, clearly looking out of place and everyone else being middle-aged. He gets caught out, but by then, simply punches his way out of it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tony comes in with a throwing star, which he chucks at Dez' face.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Tony is quite an eccentric character, to say the least. He seems to be aware of this, as he admits at one point that he often has his head so far up in the clouds that he neglects to pay attention to his surroundings.
  • Crapsack World: A major theme of the film is Ruth's growing perception that life is pointless and everyone is a jerk.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Each of the three crooks. Christian Jr. has his windpipe crushed by Ruth and gets hit by a bus when he attempts to flee. Dez gets a ninja star to the face, her hand blown off after her gun misfires and is killed by a ricocheting bullet to the head. Finally, Marshall gets a venomous snake bite to the face and spends his last scene crawling in a swamp and dying a slow death.
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  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: While he's in the middle of a heated argument with Ruth, Detective Bendix suddenly starts sobbing uncontrollably, much to her bewilderment. He then admits that his wife wants a divorce, which is why he's been acting so abrasively lately. However, when Ruth expresses genuine sympathy for his plight, he rejects her attempts to console him and tells her to leave.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite all the violence and deaths throughout the story, the surviving characters all receive some kind of happy ending: Meredith escapes the shootout at the Rumack mansion unharmed and doesn't report Ruth to the police out of gratefulness for saving her life, Detective Bendix' wife decides to give their marriage another chance, Tony survives his injuries and stays friends with Ruth, and Ruth herself has finally regained her belief that there is some good in the world.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The arms dealer who sells Marshall the sawed-off decks him afterward for making a Your Mom joke at him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite the obvious estrangement and animosity between the two Christian Sr. actually seems pretty heartbroken when Marshall tells him Christian Jr. is dead. Additionally, Marshall sobs and kisses Dez on the head when he realizes she's dead.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Ruth confronts Christian Sr. about his son's criminal behavior, he just shrugs it off and apathetically asks her how much she wants as compensation for the damage. He's visibly confused when Ruth tells him that she is not interested in money — she just wants Christian Jr. to apologize for what he has done.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Takes place over two days: the day of the burglary and the day afterward.
  • Fakeout Makeout: Tony suggests it when he and Ruth are on the flea market, searching for fence's stand.
  • Fingore:
    • Ruth's finger gets broken in a scuffle and spends the rest of the film in a splint.
    • During the climax, Dez mutilates Chris Sr.'s hand with her shotgun, only to suffer the same fate shortly afterwards when the same gun misfires and explodes in her hands.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Tony is obviously a big fan of Asian martial arts, given his ownership of "nunchaku" and throwing stars as well as his strict observance of their correct names and countries of origin.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dez blasts off her fingers with her own shotgun thanks to a weapons malfunction.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Parodied. Tony is revealed as utterly clueless about it, barely being able to use a browser in the first place. He still manages to track the van... after Ruth gives her credit card number and pays a fee at some shady site.
  • Impersonating an Officer: To track down the burglars, Ruth and Tony eventually get themselves to Christian's house, by flashing a cereal box toy badge to Junior's step-mom. She seems to buy into their act and invites them in, offering a chat and coffee. When Christian Sr. gets inside, it's revealed she knew they weren't police, but is so bored, she still went with it anyway.
  • Improvised Weapon: Ruth ends up wielding the bag with the footprint evidence against Christian Jr., who made the footprint to begin with, and crushes his windpipe with it by mistake.
  • Jerkass: Christian Rumack Sr. is a cynical, alcoholic jerk who doesn't care about his wife and son, and viciously mocks Ruth's idealistic worldview. Ruth comments that it's easy to see how his son turned out the way he did.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While he's acting out his failing marriage, Detective Bendix is absolutely right for calling out Ruth on her vigilantism, snooping around and selfish nature - along with mentioning she could avoid all that trouble if she simply kept her doors locked when not home.
  • Kick the Dog: Christian Jr. is introduced giving the house he's robbing an upperdecker, after shitting into the flush tank. This establishes that he's not just a thief, he's an asshole as well.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After shooting apart Chris Sr.'s hand, Dez gets her own hand blown to bits when her gun backfires.
  • Lethally Stupid: The trio of criminals is shown repeatedly as being absolutely incapable of thinking about consequences of their actions. Which is also what makes them so dangerous to just be around - not to mention being their target.
  • Long Title
  • Meet Cute: Subverted. Early in the movie Ruth sits a bar reading a fantasy novel. A man (played by Director Macon Blair) walks up to the bar and sparks a conversation with her revealing that he is a fan of the book. The two start to bond before the man nonchalantly spoils an important plot point, collects his beer order and returns to his friends.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The snake is a Cottonmouth which is native only to the Southeast United States and wouldn’t be found in the wild within 1500 miles of Oregon. However Kudos to the filmmakers for avoiding the usual cliché of having the snake loudly hiss, rattle, or use a harmless snake and pretend it’s a venomous one.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • A major source of the humor in the film, starting when Ruth and Tony are staking out the suspected burglars, who she's witnessed shooting a watermelon apart and being rowdy about it. Cut to Tony's dog in the back seat.
    • The majority of the film plays out as a Black Comedy, and the violence is mostly Played for Laughs. This changes drastically once the story reaches its climax, at which point it turns into a deadly serious crime thriller, culminating in an extremely gory shootout and an intense chase scene.
  • No Social Skills: Both Ruth and Tony lack any sort of social skills whatsoever, to almost dangerous levels. The crooks they are following aren't much better at this, either, but that's another story entirely.
  • Pet the Dog: Tony is introduced as the first person to show any remorse for his thoughtless action. He apologizes and picks up the dog poop.
  • Police Are Useless: The police repeatedly refuse to help Ruth and dismiss everything she says, causing her to take the law into her own hands; which they also criticize after she comes to them with evidence about the three burglars.
  • Racist Grandma: Ruth's patient demonstrates this right before she dies.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Detective Bendix delivers one to Ruth when she accuses him of not doing his job properly, telling her with Brutal Honesty that the universe doesn't revolve around her, that she wouldn't have to worry about the burglary if she had simply locked her door, and that he has to deal with far worse crimes than the theft of some silverware. Especially since she retrieved it herself.
  • Red Herring: The locator app leads Ruth not to the actual burglars, but the people who bought her laptop from a fence.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: The antiquated, half-rusted sawed-off shotgun predictably misfires in the worst moment possible. And takes Dez's hands with it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Rumbacks' home includes a "Walden Pond room." Appropriately enough, they live lakeside.
    • Meredith compares her stepson Christian Jr. to Damien from The Omen.
  • Skewed Priorities: Tony sees nothing wrong with vigilante justice, even if it includes threatening people with lethal weapons and kicking an old man in the head, but believes that Ruth has gone too far when she steals a garden sculpture from Christian Rumack Sr. as revenge for ridiculing her.
  • Straw Nihilist:
    • Ruth's frustration with what she sees as a cruel and uncaring world causes her to adopt the view that life is meaningless and there's no use in trying to be a moral person, which is why she decides to go above the law and avenge herself on those who she believes to have wronged her. Ultimately subverted, as it becomes clear over the course of the story that despite her nihilistic platitudes, she is still a fundamentally good person and doesn't intend to seriously harm anyone.
    • The trope is played straight, however, with Christian Rumack Sr., who seems to use his extremely cynical view of the world as a justification for his own immoral behavior.
  • Stupid Crooks: Marshall, Dez and Christian Jr. are remarkably inept crooks and are told so to their face, though they are no less dangerous. This leads to rummaging through entire stack of bonds and ignoring them, in search for cash, but also brutally and without any hesitation killing people that are in their way. It's made clear throughout the story they are outright too dumb to consider consequences of their actions, making the situation far more dangerous than it really is.
  • Sunglasses at Night: One of the arms dealer's friends, who's even nicknamed "Sunglasses at Night" in the credits.
  • Tap on the Head: Dez KOs Ruth when she and Marshall spot her calling the cops after Christian Jr.'s death. Notably, Ruth ends up with open wound in her forehead and is clearly not ok when she regains consciousness.
  • Tattooed Crook: Marshall sports tattoos, a few of which he's done himself. Ruth says they look stupid. Dez takes it a step further, having tattoos on her forehead.
  • Trophy Wife: Meredith is heavily implied to be one, considering that she is stated to be Chris Sr.'s second wife and looks noticeably younger and more attractive than him. The fact that he leaves her alone at the mansion for most of the day and outright ignores her when he is at home makes it quite obvious that he married her because of her good looks rather than her personality.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Ruth vomits violently after Dez shoots off most of Christian Sr.'s fingers with her shotgun.
  • Your Mom: Marshall delivers such a joke to the arms dealer. After the deal is done, he gets slugged for it.