A Horrible Way to Die (2011)

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Notorious serial killer Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen) has just escaped police custody and resumed his killing spree. His former girlfriend and recovering alcoholic Sarah (Amy Seimetz) has recently moved to a small Midwestern town and is trying to put her life back together. She regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, where she meets fellow addict Kevin (Joe Swanberg). Kevin is romantically interested in Sarah, but she remains withdrawn: her past continues to haunt her and may soon catch up with her, as Garrick is leaving a trail of bodies in his hunt to find her... -- (C) Anchor Bay

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Critic Reviews for A Horrible Way to Die

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

A restrained, ripely atmospheric thriller that relies more on mood than on special effects.

Aug 18, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/5

The scrambled timeline seems like an effort to disguise a paucity of original ideas. It'll be interesting to see what Wingard can do when he actually gets hold of some.

Aug 18, 2011 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
AV Club
Top Critic

Here, too much handheld camera wobble and wavering image focus only alienate the viewer from this somewhat sluggish tale.

Sep 18, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

This is not the easiest film to just sit back and soak in, but it is very satisfying to do the work.

Aug 21, 2018 | Full Review…

offers a visual restraint and a melancholic lyricism that make it quite unlike anything else in the otherwise overcrowded serial killer genre... a story of love and death, addiction and self-control, the wages of sin and the long road to redemption.

Sep 6, 2011

A brutally raw and mind-blowing story crafted by one of the best writers working in independent Hollywood today and a cast that oozes both a quiet intensity and a subversive wit.

Sep 3, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Horrible Way to Die

½

Being honest, I didn't see the ending (which is pretty solid) coming until about five seconds before it got there. Also being honest, this is not Adam Wingard's best work. In fact of what I personally've seen from him, it's actually his worst. A Horrible Way to Die's problems are many, the absolute worst of which is the camerawork. It is spasmodic nature is aggravating to the point of being painful. Blegh.

Gimly M.
Gimly M.

Super Reviewer

Dafaq is wrong with the camera? More like "A Horrible Film to Watch." There is no budget at all for some basic lighting and dolly, the camera shakes like an earthquake. Characters had no emotions, I did not understand why this is even a horror film, just because people died doesn't make it a horror film.

Sylvester Kuo
Sylvester Kuo

Super Reviewer

½

"A Horrible Way to Die" is marketed as a suspense/horror film and while the plot has many twists, adding creepy music doesn't make it a horror film. The score however, is atmospheric, particularly when Garrick Turrell is shown on his killing spree. The camera work is too jumpy and shaky for my taste, though that is the director's intention. While AJ Bowen puts in a good performance as the criminal serial killer, the rest of the actors don't have much to work with as their characters seem fairly one dimensional. Overall the film was average at best and while there are good intentions, most fall flat.

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

Sometimes there are horror films wherein the villain is exactly the real life horror. In Adam Wingard's A Horrible Way to Die that villain is addiction. Amy Seimetz plays Sarah, a girl with a harrowing back story. Through flashbacks, the audience learns that Sarah has been unknowingly dating a serial killer (AJ Bowen). Once she finds out the truth, she is able to put her lover behind bars and leave without a trace, but the guilt of being so brutally betrayed builds up inside her so much that she turns to alcohol to make herself forget. She's decided to battle her addiction and try to regain some sort of control over her life. Meanwhile, Sarah's serial killer boyfriend Garrick has broken out of prison. His motive is clear. To find and seek Sarah out. But like Sarah, Garrick is a slave to addiction, an addiction to killing. No better scene shows this than when he kidnaps a young woman and has her drive him through a police barricade. Once they successfully get through, the girl pleads with him to let her go as he promised, but the next scene shows him walking around the car, the girl stabbed to death inside. Wingard's use of restraint to show the murder emphasises that the focus of this sequence is not the act of murder but how Garrick feels before and after he commits the act. Many audiences have complained about the shooting style: a marriage of nausea causing shots that constantly move in and out of focus. I have to agree with these complaints. No matter how much you attempt to maintain focus on a scene, you can be quickly taken out of it as the camera moves for almost no reason and you have to wait until it stabilizes so you can get back to following the action. It's a very bad visual decision. However, this shooting style may not be enough to make you completely write off this otherwise thematically complex and very well written film. This isn't a typical horror film. It's very character driven and it often skips over the brutal killing scenes. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are a filmmaking team to watch out for in the coming years. A Horrible Way to Die will hopefully work out your brain more so than your eyes.

Edward Boxler
Edward Boxler

Super Reviewer

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