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A Horrible Way to Die
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A Horrible Way to Die More at IMDbPro »

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24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

A good independent film despite the camera work

Author: Greg ( from Oakville, Ontario
16 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen) is one mean ass mother. As A Horrible Way to Die opens, we see Garrick opening his truck and pulling out a scared and bound young girl. He then takes her to the woods and strangles her to death. We are reintroduced to Garrick in prison and we learn that he is a prolific serial killer with a fan base unrivaled in the prison system. But when Garrick escapes in transport, his murderous trail begins again and his impulsive homicidal behavior will be the focus of state-wide searches. We also meet Sarah (Amy Seimetz). Sarah is a soft spoken and somewhat timid girl we meet first at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where she testifies to being four months sober. Here, she meets Kevin (Joe Swanberg), another recovering alcoholic that befriends Sarah and the two are soon dating. As the film switches between both the past and present, we learn that Sarah and Garrick used to be a couple. Garrick would consistently leave the house in the middle of the night for his killing sprees and Sarah's drinking obstructed her from revealing exactly who Garrick was. That is, until one night she follows Garrick to a storage garage where his murderous secret is revealed. Sarah immediately calls the police so we can assume that now that Garrick has freed himself from incarceration, revenge for Sarah turning him in would be first on his mind. A Horrible Way to Die follows both Sarah's and Garrick's stories both in the past together and separately as the two begin a path that will surely have them reunite. Director Adam Wingard (Pop Skull, 2007) uses a single camera that constantly zooms in and out of focus as his shooting style to bring their story to the screen. The effect can be at times brilliant and at other times annoying and headache inducing. Both stories are equally interesting in their respective paths. Sarah's budding relationship with Kevin is honest and genuine in its portrayal thanks largely to the great acting performance by Seimetz. Garrick's story is more gruesome. He continues to impulsively murder countless individuals on his search for Sarah with a kitchen and dinner knife being his weapon of choice. The wild card in the story is Kevin. We will not reveal any further details other than the final 20 minutes will have you wondering which if any of the three major characters will survive. There are a lot of holes in the film. And Garrick has no serial killer M.O. He uses knives, strangles, leaves bodies, keeps others n freezers Guess that is why the guys from Criminal Minds didn't find him. But for an independent and low budget film, A Horrible Way to Die is above average. It was a real and interesting sit through even if the style can be abusive to watch.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Dark, Flawed Jewel

Author: Richard_vmt from California
11 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film deserves high marks for the all-important mood making. The integration of music and sound, infernal or merely funereal, and sometimes reaching up into the natural (police sirens) makes the presence of evil constantly there even when just driving along an empty road.

The dementia in this film is not merely the efforts of a single mad man but the hellish world where abductions, torture, rape and murder are accepted. And it does this realistically.

In this type of film there are always the moments of normalcy contrasted with the evil. But here, the only normalcy is in AA meetings which are themself like the reflective upward facing surface of Hell. This fills the whole film with a feeling of pity and despair.

But the film has a fatal flaw. The plot is unfollowable. Also, owing to the dark nature of the exposure, it was not always easy to identify characters. This is further exasperated by the awkward use of flash back. So that while I saw the beautiful naked woman dead in the tub--and it was a disturbing image--I could not say whether it was the same woman in later scenes clothed and still alive--or whether it was a serial killing. I certainly had no bearings at all. The film shows promise but results are defective.

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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A quiet, unsettling piece of filmmaking

Author: mdnobles19 from United States
8 September 2011

A very mature, organic, moody, restrained, dark, character driven drama/thriller that took its time going down a tense, sometimes terrifying path. The movie was filmed in a very artistic, independent, simplistic way that connects the viewer with the characters in a personal way that makes the ordeal effective and all too real which makes the sinister acts very disturbing and chilling. The film has a very familiar theme that we've seen before as a serial killer escapes from prison and begins to kill again but to me it hasn't quite been done like this before and makes the thriller different from the norm and ends on a surprising and powerful note. The movie did have suspense in it and some bloody scenes but it's done in a less is more way making it have a classic feel but this movie is smarter than that and relied more on character depth, performances and story than anything else which it mostly succeeded on. Overall if you like your serial killer movies to have a more deeper meaning and not over the top like it was back in the day you might find something to appreciate about A Horrible Way To Die but don't expect a lot of gore, scares and action but more on mood, atmosphere and suspense and even at that it a pretty slow burn of a movie but a decent one at that. 6 out of 10

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24 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

A Good Way To enjoy 85 minutes

Author: Adam Cuttler from United States
7 February 2011

Other than knowing a brief plot outline of an escaped murderer on the hunt of his ex-girlfriend, I had no idea what I was getting into when going to see Adam Wingard's latest, A Horrible Way To Die. Just so you're aware, as far as plot goes, that is all you have to know before heading off to see this film. As for an overall visceral pleasing experience… well, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As long as the beholder isn't epileptic or easily prone to motion sickness, that is. Both of which I am not, enabling me to absolutely love this film.

Constant shots of close-ups and not just on the actors' faces but knuckles, waists and other body parts (get your mind out of the gutter) as well as random objects around them effectively brought me into the characters' personal space with an intimacy most other mainstream films lack. Never is the camera shaky either, it's more of a purposeful fluidity, like imitating the human eye as it occasionally wanders while in conversation with another person. A good example of a film to compare the camera movement to would be Gaspar Noe's Irreversible. I don't me to drone on and on about one technical aspect of the film, but when something even the most casual moviegoers can not ignore is applied in such a non-gimicky way it's praise can not go unnoticed.

So, now that my praise for the way in which the film was shot has gone on the record I'll briefly dive into other elements of the film, mainly acting, plot and score:

Acting - The two stars of the film, Aj Bowen and Amy Seimetz, both turn in a-list performances. Can't wait to see these two make the leap into Hollywood and gain the larger attention that they both deserve. Plot – Keeping the story simple and absent of any convoluted sub-plots might be too dull for some to sit through… sucks for those people. Personally, I was ready for it to be an hour longer. Score – Nothing too extraordinary here, but it works for what it's trying to accomplish. Overall I'd say A Horrible Way To Die is a great way to spend 85 minutes

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Your Boyfriend's a WHAT?!!

Author: evanston_dad from United States
29 August 2012

Well, the title ain't lying. Lots of people die in this movie, either on screen or off, and one person comes very close to dying, and all of the methods used are pretty horrible.

"A Horrible Way to Die" brings an admittedly unique spin to the serial killer movie. It uses mixed up chronology to tell the story of a woman whose boyfriend, a convicted serial killer, escapes from prison and comes back to find her, and the efforts of a new love interest to help her and keep her safe. The wacky order in which the story is told makes it feel richer than it probably is, and there are some major plot twists toward the end (up there with some of the biggest) that are handled less than delicately (you can practically hear the gears grinding at one point as the movie shifts into an entirely new direction). And stylistically it feels like a film made by a film student who's been itching to get his hands on a camera and can't control himself once he has -- the camera is always, I mean ALWAYS, moving, randomly zooming, drifting off to the edges of the frame, going out of focus. It's exceedingly annoying.

But the film does have a morbidly grim appeal to it. I can't say I necessarily enjoyed watching it, but I can say that it was memorable.

Grade: B-

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36 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

A horrible way to waste 84 minutes of your time

Author: JvH48 from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
21 April 2011

I saw this film as part of the "Imagine" film festival 2011 in Amsterdam. The festival synopsis sounded attractive, as did most of the reviews. We were forewarned about loose story lines that would combine eventually, but not until some 5 minutes before the end. That was indeed a fact, but it does not give the film makers any right to leave us guessing what the continuous murdering is all about, and where all this waste of human life is heading.

Something else that added to the confusion was the repeated switching between flash forward and flash back. We got some help from one of the main characters, who did us some service by shaving off his beard after he escaped from prison. This kept us on track to decide every time we saw him, whether it happened before or after his prison time. But that was all we got, as far as I know. If there were any other clues to bring order in the scenes, I certainly overlooked these.

Though my leniency was stretched to the limit for 84 minus 5 minutes, I still have a few positive comments. That concerns the casting and acting of the characters involved, and in particular the main role players who were assigned to carry the story. Needless to say that they got themselves into a mere Mission Impossible, but nevertheless did their best to create something watchable out of the confusing (for me, that is) script.

All in all, I could only give a "hopeless" rating for the public prize competition when leaving the theater. I see no need for watching a movie that has no consistent plot, no story line that we can derive from the events, and no underlying motive to see a series of people killed in cold blood. All these bad things, if necessary to show, should have an inherent meaning or some higher purpose. Even worse, after the final 5 minutes where everything was tied together, I still cannot explain the overload (or should I say: overkill) of dead bodies. If you want my opinion: do not go, or you will be disappointed.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Making it work

Author: kosmasp
13 October 2013

A difficult movie to watch could be another title. At least for some this will hold true. AJ Bowen made a name for himself with other movies and has quite a few fans, though even they (most of them at least) would agree that saying "Enjoy" this movie might be a wrong word to use. It's not the time structure or the different stories that make it difficult to watch itself nor the fact, that it still is predictable, but that it is very grim, with actually almost nobody the audience can identify with. Therefor choosing AJ to play the lead was actually a very good idea, that helps the movie a lot.

The final resolution of the movie and some of the characters is too convenient and predictable as mentioned, but if you can overlook that, you will get a thriller that knows what it wants. It is beautifully shot, though that means that it looks dirty in this case and dark. If that floats your boat, you should check the movie out. Otherwise rent with care

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An impressive low budget horror thriller

Author: TdSmth5 from US
28 September 2013

A guy has a kidnapped girl in his trunk. He drives out somewhere during winter and chokes her to death. A girl assists an AA meeting. Another of the attendees introduced himself to her and slowly they begin a relationship although she's traumatized and repressed. How these two stories relate we come to find out in flashbacks as this movie progresses.

Turns out that the killer is a convicted serial killer who managed to escape while being transported somewhere. He steals cars and as the manhunt intensifies and his face is plastered all over the news, he threatens people to drive him across state lines.

The couple becomes intimate and she reveals her secret to the guy. She was the serial killer's girlfriend. She called the police on him after she followed him and discovered he had rented a storage unit to keep the bodies. But there is a twist in the relationship between her and the new guy.

A Horrible Way to Die is a good title for a horror movie, except that it doesn't have anything to do with this movie. The idea comes up somewhere when the killer asks his gf how she would like to die. But that's about it. We don't see any horrible killings. There is some after-the-fact gore, but nothing special. It's a small budget movie that doesn't look or sound like it is. Wingard knows how direct and he knows hot to tell a story. And this movie looks very nice and sophisticated. Wingard has to employ a variety of tricks to overcome the main problem- the short script. So we get a lot of different and strange camera techniques that may seem out of place but that give this film its unique tone and atmosphere. We get moving but not shaky camera, out of focus, odd placement of the camera, things in the way. And almost all of it works, except for the distracting Christmas lights that the girl for some reason has everywhere in her house. The story works, even the way it's told, the surprise. The actors all do a good job, in particular Seimetz. And the film transmits the closeness and intimacy of the characters. It's just not enough- not enough horror, not enough violence, not enough gore- after all this movie involves a serial killer.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Horrible Way to Die is a great example of a movie for people who can appreciate the craft of filmmaking and storytelling.

Author: Joshua Hillyard
6 June 2013

in my opinion, people have too narrow of a view on what's considered a 'horror movie'. so when it comes to a lot of people, A Horrible Way to Die will mostly likely disappoint because it doesn't follow a humdrum and redundant horror movie formula: blood, guts, haunted places, monsters, deranged psychopaths stalking people, etc...

watch this movie if you're looking to watch a GOOD movie in general. it's the kind of horror movie that shows you a glimpse into a somewhat practical situation. a lot of movies out there tend to skimp on one vital part of making a movie: the story. and because the horror genre is vast, it seems too many people make horror movies with only blood and guts in mind (which isn't always a bad thing). the story in this movie is attentive to appreciating the craft of MAKING a good story.

generalized example horror plot (that has nothing to do with this film):

a movie about someone breaking into a house and terrorizing the family inside.

it's a basic concept that's been done a million times and will be made a million more times. BUT, that doesn't mean you CAN'T make a good movie about that specific scenario. it's a terrifying concept that isn't too outlandish to conceive. unfortunately this makes a lot of filmmakers lazy. they slap together a 'screenplay' and depend on generic situations that other people have done over and over again to do the work.

fortunately, there are some great films out there using that concept. and those films involve a well thought out story. instead of throwing buckets of blood around hoping the more blood, the better the movie, some people would rather switch the buckets of blood with an actual STORY. the horror springs from the reaction of characters involved, and how they react towards each other.

THIS is that kind of movie.

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Nicely done.

Author: ritera1 from United States
31 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A textbook way to engineer a low-budget horror story without losing any of the tension and humanity. The use of music was a bit heavy-handed but did its job and covered for the lack of budget in creating more interesting visuals.

Very slow, methodical and gritty. I could have used less of the bouncy camera, though.

Both leads were original and well-acted. The killer's reluctance was somewhat evident throughout (but not enough) and clarified at the end with his monologue. But it was clarified at the end. Something more was needed to put his self-hatred into focus. Not reveal it all, but focus it much earlier. Thus, there was more to this story that was not explored.

Now it was clearly stated that this killer had internet friends. So someone was going to give away her location from early on. That was giving away the store and should have been reigned in. But who?

I'm surprised that it took me so long but I finally got it when the new boyfriend showed after the friend's murder. Maybe that was due to the good performance. After that it was waiting for the inevitable in 3 minutes. I didn't catch on that the work friends were in it, though.

Then the killer shows up due to contact with one of the friends. I initially bought it and it was explained. But then I got to thinking'. Why didn't the killer alert the cops at the onset?

Why didn't the killer make a bee-line to the woman if he was so concerned? Granted, the ending was done very well, but I had doubts about the timing as it took a couple weeks at least. Why did the phony boyfriend go through the relationship? (Could have been explained easily, but was not. They explained contacting the killer.) And why did the other two wait so long for the murder they wanted to commit?

But good ending with the killer saving her and his monologue. Left me with an uneasy feeling on who to root for. And a very horrible feeling because she can never really trust again. I'd be curious what a sequel would look like.

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