Blood Simple


Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    If you are squeamish, here is the film to make you squeam.
  2. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Hannah Brown
    It's like watching Alfred Hitchcock try to solve a Rubik's cube in a roadside diner.
  3. All in all, Blood Simple looks better than ever.
  4. Portland Oregonian
    Reviewed by: Kim Morgan
    Filled with wonderful performances, especially by Hedaya and Walsh, Blood Simple remains a tight, beautifully ugly, neo-noir classic.
  5. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Savor their technique and the sizzling performances of Frances McDormand as an adulterous wife, Dan Hedaya as her vengeful husband and M. Emmet Walsh as a private detective from hell.
  6. I love the movie's originality, its sense of macabre humor, its resourcefulness, and the great Walsh, whose memorable narration kicks off the movie.
  7. I love the unsettling details.
  8. Blood Simple becomes a dazzling comedie noire, a dynamic, virtuoso display by a couple of talented fledgling filmmakers who give the conventions of the genre such a thorough workout that the result is a movie that's fresh and exhilarating (in the way that Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Diva” was).
  9. As good as it ever was, and improved slightly by hindsight, experience, and extra cash.
  10. (The Coens have) never again achieved the one-two punch of Blood Simple and "Raising Arizona" - the first darkly cynical, the second light-headedly comical.
  11. San Francisco Examiner
    Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    It's the boys' most immediately gratifying movie: The goods are delivered in a hearse.
  12. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    This is not an inspirational drama about finding yourself; it's a Hitchcockian comedy about adultery, murder and losing a corpse.
  13. 80
    Boldly facetious and monstrously clever.
  14. 80
    The Coens' concern isn't emotional intensity but bravura camera moves and chic lighting of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld.
  15. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 27, 2016
    There's a simple magnetism inherent in this kind of filmmaking, and the Coens know how to orchestrate it.
  16. If you can handle its horror-comic grotesquerie, you'll find an enormous amount of cinematic imagination at work.
  17. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Grisly, stylish and often weirdly funny, Blood Simple is a reminder of how rarely an original artistic sensibility is announced to the world and how much better movies are when that sensibility is allowed to keep going its own way.
  18. Clever as it is, Blood Simple is derivative and self-consciously stylized.
  19. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    All these years later, the film is far more infuriating than it is exciting.
  20. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    It is an exploitation picture disguised as a hipster comedy.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Jul 8, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Blood Simple: 6 out of 10: Some movies are victims of their own success. Alien is a great film but it seems a little slow nowadays and the plot while very fresh in 1979 has been done to death. (I still love it mind you but if I saw it for the first time this year I would probably wonder what the big deal is) The surprise is gone. I bring that up because at its time Blood Simple was a critics darling. A breath of very fresh air in our nations multiplexes. Not anymore.

    This kind of noir has been done to death since the Coen brothers revived it twenty plus years ago and Blood Simple through no fault of its own suffers as a result. The plot of the jealous husband and double crosses has had so many spins of the same record (1/2 of them seemingly starring Tim Matheson) that the original simply doesn't have the freshness or power it undoubtedly had back in '84.

    The movie has great strengths still however. Seeing Frances McDormand looking this cute reminds me of see Lucille Ball or Bette Davis in one of their first films when they were sex objects. And while John Getz gets swallowed up in his straight role Dan Hedaya (Cheers) on the other hand plays sleazy so well I forget I have seen it so many times since.

    Overall very well done if slightly slow paced and certainly worth a view just too familiar to encourage a repeat viewing.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 16, 2016
    Blood Simple was truly a sign of things to come from the Coen brothers. Featuring all of their trademark quirk, fantastic characters, botchedBlood Simple was truly a sign of things to come from the Coen brothers. Featuring all of their trademark quirk, fantastic characters, botched plans, and an engaging story, Blood Simple is a fantastic neo-noir crime film from the Coens. The writing is great and the acting, especially Frances McDormand, is very good throughout. The film is also a surprising source of thrills and some horror movie elements (though not a horror movie by any means) in large part thanks to the great score, good sound, and creepy atmosphere fostered by the Coens. The characters truly make this film though as in all Coen brothers films with each of them being completely off-the-wall. Admittedly the blood here caught me off-guard, but it was nothing too bad. Overall, Blood Simple is pitch perfect. Full Review »
  3. Apr 3, 2016
    'Blood Simple': A Story Worth Repeating.

    Here's what's really new about the rerelease of the Coen Brothers' 1984 debut film, "Blood
    'Blood Simple': A Story Worth Repeating.

    Here's what's really new about the rerelease of the Coen Brothers' 1984 debut film, "Blood Simple," digitally restored and reedited for clarity and speed: not a damn thing.
    Nada, nothing, zilch. Or at least nada, nothing, zilch that you'll notice. According to the press release, some scenes have been shortened, some musical cues improved and the whole thing generally cleaned up, and there's an amusing mock interview with the pseudo-"restorer." None of this will even register.

    Meanwhile, you'll have the same great time.

    Basically, it's still a riff on the inevitability of death and Texas. And in Texas, son, you're on your own, as the detective Loren Visser says with one of his wheezy, sardonic laughs in the early going. Abandon hope, ye who enter the Lone Star State, and pull up to the bar of the Neon Boot for a cold bottle of Jax. What place is this? Where are we now? The news is bad: We are in a dark, carbuncular, cynical, rancid universe. We're in noir hell, where all motives are misunderstood, all love turns foul, all trust twists into deceit, the best-laid plans tangle like barbed wire, and the tune on the juke, over and over again, twanging into the blue night, is that country classic "I'm Just a Bug on the Windshield of Life."

    Nearly everybody ends up dead, in some spectacular fashion, and when the one survivor turns a corner to look upon the face of her antagonist, hoping at last to understand everything, it turns out to be somebody she didn't even know existed, and the stunned look on her face conveys that she understands nothing. The message of the movie: "Ha, ha, joke's on you."

    The movie is essentially a smartass re-imagining of the great James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice," with a new and even darker plot strand added. In Cain's classic, a drifter and a wife fell in love and teamed up to murder her hubby, the abusive owner of a roadhouse. The Coen version goes one better: same roadhouse, same relationship between wife and drifter (a bartender now), but it's the husband who tries to murder them.

    The hired killer--a sleazy private eye who drives a VW Beetle to symbolize his order in the place of things; he's a bug--plays everyone for suckers, to make off with 10 grand and nothing pointing at him. See, he thinks he's smarter than everyone, and he is, but he's not smarter than that immense jokester Mr. Fate, who is so busily bouncing the plot off three walls into some of the most crazed rebounds on record.

    It's a movie full of great moments, looking just as fresh as they did in 1984, when the Coens--Joel at that time was an assistant editor on splatter films, Ethan a statistical typist at Macy's--created their dark tapestry. Visser (M. Emmet Walsh, still sweating and wheezing his way around like a slug of pure slimy squalor) still gets his hand pinned to the windowsill by a hunting knife, pounds and shoots his way free and hunts his antagonist by blowing holes in the dark wall with a .45.

    Marty (Dan Hedaya, with a bristle on his chin so intense it should be called a 1 o'clock shadow or maybe a 10 a.m. shadow) still gets buried alive, oozing blood and struggling against his fate, and Ray the bartender (John Getz) still conks him on the head with a shovel as he tries to climb from the grave. As for Ray, he still stands there, confessing his love for Abby (Frances McDormand, soon to become and now still Mrs. Joel Coen), who he thinks has killed her husband, when the high-powered rifle bullet sails through the window and lances him like a boil.

    What good fun!

    What a saucy crew!

    I love the unsettling details. Marty's name isn't Marty O'Donnell, it's Julian Marty, and everybody calls him Marty, even though he's the man of power. Hedaya went on to a fabulous, still strong-running career, but he's so great here: feral, suspicious, sly, mean, cowardly, face eternally blackened by that smear of beard. And the great and wondrous Walsh: so avuncular, so moist with corruption, so unbrushed of teeth and unscrubbed of sin, in his cheesy polyester western suits (he doesn't even wear boots!). And Ray: Lord God, do they make them any dumber than Ray, eternal chump, doomed by love from the start? It's so very nice to have these old friends back again.

    Of course the Coens went on to even more greatness, climaxing in the wondrous "Fargo" of a few years back, and they're about to release a new film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," which they describe as the third in their "hayseed trilogy" after this film and "Raising Arizona." I can't hardly wait.
    Full Review »