Blood Simple 32 Years Later

June 16th, 2016 by Caleb Cajthaml

It’s 1:34 a.m, and I need to be up at 7:00, but I just saw “Blood Simple” and need to put down my thoughts on the page.

Released in 1984, “Blood Simple” is the directorial debut of the Coen brothers. Now, I’ve never seen a Coen Brothers film, that’s one of the reasons I watched “Blood Simple” in the first place. But after watching the movie I just can’t wait to watch everything else they’ve created. I also need to address that this is in no way, shape, or form a definitive analysis or breakdown of the movie. I’m just some 15 year old who grew up watching Star Wars religiously. But I wanted to write down my thoughts in hopes of bettering my interpretation of film, while also presenting how this film holds up to a younger generation, one that all too often falls in love with blockbuster films that are more closely related to boxing matches than an actual story. Lastly, this is a piece that assumes you’ve already seen the movie and will likely be incomprehensible if you haven’t, so read ahead with that in mind.


“Blood Simple” is such a special film. I can’t fully put into words why I love the movie so much, but I just can’t stop thinking about it. I guess that’s one of the reasons it’s so special, there’s just so much to think about. And that brings me to my first point, “Blood Simple” is a film that asks something of the viewer. Now, I don’t think it’s rare for a noir type, crime thriller to ask the viewer to question the current motives of the characters, but “Blood Simple” does it so outright that it made the film stand out.

There are several twenty minute stretches in the movie with absolutely no dialogue, and they create this tension unparalleled in almost any other thriller. Moments like the burial of Marty or the last fight between the Private Investigator and Abby are ten times more intense because of the atmosphere created by a lack of communication. This absence of dialogue forces the viewer to question the motives of the current protagonist and creates a very obvious juxtaposition between the mindset of the movie characters and simple logic.


A quick IMDb search revealed that “the title [of the movie] is based on a phrase from the Dashiell Hammett novel ‘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.” I can’t think of a more perfect title for this movie. These characters become so  paranoid, so unaware of their actions, and all of this is made painstakingly clear by how the movie is written. Where a traditional film would spell out each characters motives, creating understandable and almost relatable characters, “Blood Simple” chooses to run in the complete opposite direction. By not directly showing the motives of each character, they all appear mad, in that same “fearful mindset” the term “blood simple” defines.

There isn’t anything wrong with spelling out a character’s motives, but it creates a sort of comfort for the viewer. Watching “Blood Simple” is anything but comfortable. We see these characters that we’ve started to fall in love with spiral down an incredibly dark path. It’s sad to watch because as the viewer, we’re able to realize that what they’re doing is anything but just, and that they’ll all probably end up dead or in jail for the rest of their lives (more on that later). The lack of communication lets the viewer come to their own conclusion about how the characters should handle the situation, one that is so often so different than what the characters actually do.


So, now that ending. The entire time I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but wonder what the outcome of these characters would be. How a judge would look at the situation, whether or not a police officer would understand, that sort of thing. And the brilliance of this ending is that we never find that out. Thinking about it now, to watch these characters go on trial would be very awkward tonally, it just wouldn’t fit with the rest of the movie. Now, only one character truly survives, but the ambiguity of her outcome just adds to never ending things to think about with this movie. Also, “Well, ma’am, if I see him, I’ll sure give him the message.” is truly one of the greatest lines of all time.

“Blood Simple” is unique. A special film that doesn’t just give away the answers and uses that to create a truly incredible tone. I can’t wait to watch the other eight Coen Brothers films my grand father lent to me. If they’re anything like this one, I’ll be a happy man. I’ll probably write about those movies too, so “keep it locked” these next few days.


Caleb Cajthaml is a 15 year old who set dreams so large he needed to get started on them now. Passionate about making people happy Caleb loves to write about all things entertainment. You can find him on twitter @Caleb_Talks tweeting about the latest happenings in the Star Wars cannon and why the Vikings are the best team in football.