Film Review: A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (2010)

Film Review: A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (2010)

Aug 24, 2018

IMDb: A Horrible Way to Die (2010)
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg

With a name like A Horrible Way To Die you may well be expecting one of two things. Either you think you are going to see some gratuitous torture movie, or a cheery feel good extravaganza. Well, believe it or not you don’t get either of these, with of course me jesting on the latter. Instead what unfolds on screen is a cold calculating descent into loneliness, desperation and murder. This is a cold and unforgiving movie that I thought was just flat-out terrific. It is a rare occasion that I will state my feelings in the first paragraph, but sometimes the movie warrants it.

Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett have conjured up a serial killer movie, without actually really being a serial killer movie, at least in the traditional sense of a serial killer movie. You aren’t going to get subjected to a police procedural or the woes of the victims as they slavishly try to apprehend/avoid the killer. No, what you will get here is an up close and personal character piece that is as enjoyable as it is uncomfortable to watch.

I suppose now might be a good time to actual comment somewhat on what A Horrible Way To Die is actually about, without divulging too much. There are actually two stories that run parallel to each other, that do collide at some point as is the inevitability of the film. The first follows Garrick Turrel, the aforementioned serial killer, who is played perfectly by AJ Bowen after his escape from jail. The second story is concerned with Sarah (Amy Seimetz), who is Garrick’s ex-girlfriend, as she copes with life’s tribulations, first and foremost being her attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It’s here that she meets Kevin, a kindly soul who tries to befriend her.

Want to know more? Watch the movie or read another review as part of the beauty of this movie is the not knowing where exactly it is going. Even revealing what I have I feel I have said too much. Suffice to say that the story is engaging, even when seemingly nothing much is happening. The whole style of the movie gets you in close to the characters, yet you still feel that there is so much more to learn about them. As I mentioned, this film is cold and detached and firmly grounded in the real world. It is one of those movies where everything about it melds together to create a devastating beast. The acting, writing, direction and score all combine to deliver a movie that, for myself, ranks firmly as one of the best of the year.

Another thing about A Horrible Way To Die, that may or may not surprise you, is that it is not overly graphic or gory. There are a few scenes where the claret is on display, but it is the context in which the scenes of violence are shot which are most disturbing. As is usually the case, it is the build-up that makes these scenes work .

Now, before you rush out and buy this movie, which I think you should, I would suggest you at least check out the trailer first as this is by no means going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You aren’t getting a run-of-the-mill movie here, and it is going to test the lazier viewer. If, however, you appreciate a film that challenges you and doesn’t throw all of its cards on the table you will find yourself a real gem here. If you can imagine the movie Fargo with every single ounce of humor removed, crossed with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer you might get close to how A Horrible Way To Die is. Even then I am probably not doing it justice.

A Horrible Way To Die is bleak, pitch black and quite excellent. Thoroughly recommended.

Trailer: