A Horrible Way to Die (2010) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • An escaped murderer is in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, who has fled to start a new life in a small town.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A car drives along a stretch of road. On a pass through wooded hills, the driver, Garrick Turrell, gets out and opens the trunk, revealing a brunette. The young woman is bound and gagged, recoiling in terror as Garrick takes her out of the trunk. He takes her further into the woods, and she whimpers and struggles as he pushes her down on the ground. Garrick appears to want to comfort and calm down the woman, but in the end, he grabs her by the neck, first strangling her and finally snapping her neck. Garrick drives away in his car.

    The movie then cuts to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where we meet our main character, Sarah, who has been sober for three months. Another fellow alcoholic, Kevin, invites her to dinner to celebrate. She offers instead to meet him for lunch on Thursday.

    During their date, Sarah is shy and timid. The fact that there are wine bottles along a wall near the restaurant's entrance has them both a little awkward.

    Garrick is being moved to another prison. He offers no resistance and stares into space. A loose screw rolls around on the floor of the police car.

    Sarah is at work in a dental office where she works as a hygienist. Her co-worker asks her about her date, and encourages her not to write it off just yet, even though she doesn't feel ready to go any further.

    Garrick arrives at a rest stop with public showers. He showers, washes his hair, and shaves off his beard. Flashbacks show his escape from the police car, and an officer with his throat ripped wide open. That night, at a motel, his TV plays a news report about a nationwide manhunt for him. Despite being a serial murderer, Garrick has a very large fan base, and some women have actually written expressing an interest in marrying him. Appearing to wrestle with more inner demons, he finally goes into the restroom where a naked blonde woman lies dead in the tub, her throat cut.

    In the morning, Garrick is following another woman, having more memory flashbacks.

    Kevin drops Sarah off at her house after their date. Although she is timid about it, she finally leans in and kisses him before her awkwardness makes her pull back. Kevin is very forgiving and understanding, not pressuring her into anything. He offers to see her again, and she says she'll call him soon.

    Sarah has a memory flashback showing she was formerly Garrick's girlfriend. She loved him then, and he treated her well. The memories leave her unable to sleep, and she teeters dangerously close to drowning her sorrows in more alcohol before regaining control and flushing the bottle's contents down her toilet.

    Garrick drives down the road at twilight, listening to a radio news report on the manhunt for him. He's been at large for seven days now, and the FBI is coordinating with all local agencies, setting up checkpoints at both the Canadian and Mexican borders.

    At an AA meeting Sarah listens to another woman tell a story about herself. The meeting leader asks Sarah about confronting her own alcoholism, and she trips over her words a number of times, only able to say that she was in a bad relationship and came to understand that her alcoholism was tied to it.

    As Sarah enters her car, Kevin is there, impressed at how she's starting to open up about herself. He assures her that like her, everyone there has more to tell, but just aren't ready yet. He'd very much like to hear her stories, but only when she's comfortable with them. Sarah suddenly invites Kevin over to her house for tea. Tea leads to kissing, which leads to them starting to have sex, but ultimately Kevin can't go through with it. Sarah gently tells him it's okay.

    We see another flashback: Garrick is forcing the woman he'd been tailing to drive him through a police checkpoint. He quietly explains step by step how she can get through without any suspicion. After they're through, the woman begs tearfully for her life, saying her family expected her home a half hour ago. Of course, Garrick ends up killing her. We see him get out of the car, holding the knife, slumping near the left front wheel of the car, and the camera pans to show the woman sitting behind the wheel, the window dotted with blood.

    The memory flashback shows Sarah waking up at the sound of Garrick leaving in the middle of the night to go for a walk.

    In the waking world, Sarah wakes up and greets Kevin, who's spent the night. He's made coffee for her, and was going to have made her breakfast, but her refrigerator is empty. He offers to take her to breakfast.

    Garrick fills his gas tank when an old man strikes up small talk. Seeing the newspaper stand showing an article about the manhunt for him, Garrick stands in front of the stand as the man rambles about nearby power lines having transponders, and now that the country has a black president, he's using them to spy on people. The man advises Garrick swapping his car, which has a plastic roof, for one with a steel roof, which the transponders can't read through. Garrick politely listens and accommodates the man, before going to his car and driving off.

    At breakfast, two of Kevin's friends find him at the counter with Sarah. Rusty does all the talking, while Reed is quiet. Kevin used to drink with them before joining AA. Rusty and Reed only stay long enough for coffee before heading out to give Kevin time alone with Sarah.

    Another memory flashback shows Garrick again leaving Sarah's house in the middle of the night. This time Sarah gets up and follows him.

    Sarah comes in to work to find that her co-worker, Carla, hasn't shown up. Sarah steps outside and calls her, leaving a message on Carla's voice mail.

    Garrick enters a bar/grill and buys a meal. As he eats, radio news continues to talk about the search for him, asking for any information not only on leads to his whereabouts, but about anyone who might be suspected of aiding and sheltering him. Internet fan sites abound, and a Facebook page for his fans numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

    Two men are leaving the bar/grill when one says he left something inside. Garrick, suspecting the man may have recognized him, feigns illness and ambushes and murders both of them.

    Sarah goes to Carla's house and knocks on her door, but there is no answer. She sees Carla's landlord, Mr. Harper, working his yard and asks about her. The landlord says he last saw Carla two days before. She gives him her name and asks him to have Carla call her if he sees Carla again.

    Sarah meets Kevin for lunch. She tells Kevin that Carla didn't show up for work and didn't answer her doorbell. Kevin offers to bring her to the police after their AA meeting, but Sarah, feeling timid again, tries to assure herself that Carla is okay.

    At the meeting, a man named Warner talks about the two young men who were killed. He was acquainted with them and sometimes drank with them, and the murder has shaken him, making him think he could have been with them and also gotten killed. One of the young men was also a meth cooker, and Warner thinks the killing might have been drug related.

    Mr. Harper knocks on Carla's door, concerned for her. He goes around to the back and lets himself in with his spare key, calling out to her. He finds Carla's body lain on the sofa, covered in dried blood.

    Garrick is seen watching outside the orthodontics office where Sarah works. Sarah hurries out of the office in tears after having learned of Carla's murder.

    Kevin hurries to Sarah's house, running to hold and comfort her after having gotten her frantic call. Unable to control her fear, Sarah is only able to tell Kevin some of the story, that she knows that her ex-boyfriend killed Carla as a warning to Sarah that he's found her and is coming after her now. Sarah is also afraid that her ex will now kill Kevin, too, for being involved with her. Kevin tells her that his parents have a cabin in a secluded area where he can take her, and they'll be safe.

    A memory flashback shows Sarah driving up to a public storage facility. She clips the lock for one locker with heavy bolt cutters and goes inside. She finds a large meat hook hanging from the ceiling and an electric drill. Clipping a heavy chain holding a large container closed, she finds the butchered body of a woman. Police race to the scene and ask Sarah about the owner of the locker. Even as she gives them Garrick's work address, she tries to tell herself and the officers that he wasn't responsible for murdering the woman.

    As Kevin drives to the cabin, Sarah is telling him her story. Kevin says he'd read about everything in the papers, and had heard of Garrick. Sarah's name and likeness, however, were never published as part of a deal in return for her testimony. They arrive at the cabin and Kevin opens the gate, saying they have to walk the rest of the way.

    Playing cards at the table are Rusty and Reed. Kevin confronts them, wanting to know what the hell they're doing there. Rusty says he's tired of waiting and wants to get down to business. Kevin suddenly turns-- and lays into Sarah with a wicked left fist to her jaw, knocking her unconscious.

    A memory flashback shows Garrick and Sarah in bed. Garrick suddenly asks Sarah how she would choose to die if she knew her death was imminent, but she could choose how it happened. Sounding not quite sober, Sarah says she'd take a morphine overdose. Garrick, on the other hand, thinks he would do something more hardcore, like a kamikaze pilot.

    Sarah awakens in the cabin; she's tied up and suspended upside down from the ceiling. Kevin, Rusty and Reed watch over her. They reveal that Reed, not Garrick, was Carla's murderer. Sarah's fate appears very bleak as they further reveal that Kevin hero-worships Garrick, and the three of them had spent a great deal of time tracking down the woman who put him behind bars, Kevin posing as a recovering alcoholic to get close to her, and finally they have her as their prisoner, to have their way with her and bring her to a grisly end the way Garrick would have and should have. They say the best place to start is to break Sarah's feet, because if she can't walk, she can't run or escape, and this would break her spirit. Reed and Rusty tightly cover Sarah's mouth to quiet her terrified screams and sobs as they start to torture her.

    The dark ritual is interrupted by a knock at the door. How anyone else even knew about the cabin, let alone were able to find it, is a mystery. Kevin seems to know, however. He answers the door and Garrick walks in. Kevin had sent Garrick letters of admiration, including a code that helped him find where Sarah had escaped to, and how to find the cabin.

    But suddenly Garrick asks what they're doing to Sarah, and when they say they're finishing his work, finishing off the woman who put him away, Garrick reveals that he didn't break out of prison to finish Sarah off, but to save her from Kevin and his cohorts. Until then, he says, he was actually very content in prison and in solitary, because he couldn't hurt anyone else there-- especially Sarah. He doesn't blame Sarah for putting him away; in fact he believes that she saved not only many others who he might have killed, but also saved Garrick from himself. The only reason Garrick escaped from prison and killed again, was because of the letters Kevin sent him about the plans to finish Sarah off... so that Garrick could save her.

    As Garrick speaks, he stealthily pulls a hidden knife. Making further small talk as a distraction, he buries the knife in Rusty's temple, grabs his gun and shoots Reed. Kevin, however, gets the drop on him, and stabs him with another long knife. Garrick is gravely wounded, but alive, and as Kevin tries to apologize, calling Garrick his hero, Garrick shoots and kills him.

    Sarah tearfully begs Garrick to untie her. Her pleas make it seem that a part of her still loves Garrick even now. Despite how gravely wounded he is, Garrick is able to untie Sarah and undo the rigging suspending her from the cabin ceiling. As he gently lowers her to the ground, he starts to succumb to his wounds. After a brief flashback with some recollections of Sarah and Garrick as a couple, Sarah stands up and exits the cabin without comforting him or showing him any gratitude. Garrick falls down to the ground and quietly dies alone.

    The movie ends as Sarah stumbles out of the cabin, back toward Kevin's car, to return to civilization.

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