Blood Simple. is a 1984 neo-noir crime film. It was the directorial debut of Joel Coen and the first major film of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, who later became a noted director. The film's title derives from the Dashiell Hammett novel Red Harvest, in which "blood simple" is a term to describe the addled, fearful mindset of people after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.
Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), the owner of a Texas bar, suspects his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with one of his bartenders, Ray (John Getz). Marty hires private detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to take photos of Ray and Abby in bed at a local motel. The morning after their tryst, Marty makes a menacing phone call to them, making it clear he is aware of their relationship.
The following day, Ray confronts Marty and quits his job. Marty threatens Ray's life and advises him to not trust Abby. Marty hires Visser to kill the couple while Marty takes a fishing trip toCorpus Christi. Visser breaks into Ray's home, steals Abby's gun, and photographs the sleeping couple through the bedroom window. Later, he presents doctored photos of their corpses to Marty when collecting his $10,000 fee. He then shoots Marty with Abby's gun in a double cross, leaving the gun at the scene, to frame her for Marty's murder.
Later that evening, Ray returns to the bar and, finding Marty's body and Abby's gun, assumes Abby murdered her husband. He decides to cover up the murder, cleaning up the blood and disposing of evidence in a backyard incinerator. Ray drives to a remote field and digs a hole to dispose of Marty's body, but discovers that Marty is still alive. He throws Marty in the hole and buries him alive. Afterward, Ray calls Abby and she thanks him for calling her in the morning, but he misinterprets this as her gratitude for his role in Marty's murder.
Visser burns the doctored photos of Abby and Ray, but realizes one is missing, having been locked in the bar's safe by Marty. Annoyed, Visser reaches for his cigarette lighter only to realize he left it in Marty's office. Meanwhile, Ray visits Abby and tells her "I cleaned up your mess". Abby does not know what Ray is talking about. Ray assumes Abby is being coy, and they begin to argue. They are interrupted by a telephone call from Visser, who says nothing. Abby tells Ray it was Marty on the phone. But Ray assumes Abby is lying, and storms out.
Confused by Ray's behavior, Abby goes to the bar to find it ransacked. Visser had been trying to break into the safe, but was interrupted by Abby's arrival. Observing the scene, Abby now thinks that Ray killed Marty because of a money dispute. She accuses him of this the next time they meet, but he explains that he found her gun at the bar and that he buried Marty alive. Ray returns once more to the bar and opens the safe, finding Visser's faked photo. He realizes he is being followed as he leaves for Abby's apartment.
When Abby arrives home that night, she turns on a light and finds Ray looking out the large window. He tells Abby to turn off the light because someone is watching them from across the street. Abby thinks Ray is threatening her, and leaves the light on. Visser is on a nearby roof with a rifle and, seeing Ray in the window, shoots him dead. Realizing Ray was right, Abby knocks out the light. She hides in the bathroom just as Visser arrives. Visser goes to the bathroom to kill Abby, who is not there. Reaching out the window, he opens the window to the next apartment, but Abby slams it down on his wrist and drives a knife through his hand. Visser shoots holes through the wall, punches through, and removes the knife. Abby retreats and waits behind the bathroom door, holding a gun.
As Visser is about to emerge, she fires through the door, hitting Visser. "I'm not afraid of you, Marty," Abby says. Visser, lying on the bathroom floor, mortally wounded, suddenly bursts into laughter. He says: "Well, ma'am, if I see 'im, I'll sure give 'im the message."