Similar to the best of the Coen Brothers movies, this film does a fantastic job of weaving the local color of the setting into the fabric of the story. Easter Cove, Maine, the setting of Blow the Man Down, is practically a character itself. It's quaint, austere, and hardscrabble, and there's a sense that there's something dark at work in this place in nearly every scene. There's a style to it reminiscent of Fargo, and not just because Easter Cove also has a Paul Bunyan as one of its landmarks. The women in the movie, not unlike Marge Gunderson, are in charge here, and the men are oblivious or oafish at best, and stupid and violent at worst.
The women contend with the aftermath of bad actions borne out of desperate situations. When the story takes hold and the dark secrets begin to be revealed, any Coen Brothers allusions are forgotten, and the movie stands on its own. There are also some darkly funny moments. In an early scene in the "bed-and-breakfast," Enid, the owner, works in her office, seemingly oblivious to the sounds of passion filtering through the ceiling. By the initial appearance of the B&B, it's easy enough to imagine this as the product of a romantic getaway, but then we soon realize that the reality is far different. It's an absorbing story, filled with menace, suspense, and wicked humor. It's just not meant for kids.