Violence has a way of transcending time and rippling down through generations, engulfing even the most innocent bystanders in its toxic pull.

The revenge drama "Blue Ruin" offers an elemental study of this theme, which has served as an underpinning of literature for as long as humans have told stories.

The picture follows a vagrant named Dwight (Macon Blair) as he seeks vengeance after the man who killed his parents is released from prison.

Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier takes what seems like a Hollywoodized premise ripe for someone like Liam Neeson and strips it down to a primal essence. The movie stays rooted to Dwight's point-of-view, offering up the grim process of answering violence with violence without giving the audience a cathartic break. There's virtually no dialogue, a minimalist score and generally no diversions from the task at hand. The filmmaker exposes a sense of obligation at the heart of Dwight's mission that amplifies its grimness.

"Blue Ruin" stands out because of the way it frames this revenge mission as a preordained conclusion, an unstoppable journey toward a brutal end. It's a circle of blood for blood, neighbor against neighbor and it may never be unbroken.