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A Horrible Way to Die (2010): Good Intentions, Mediocre Execution

A Horrible Way to Die (Adam Wingard, 2010)

Note: this movie was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.


photo credit: Mr. Movie Fiend

The poster design is fantastic; if only this level of thought had been put into other aspects of the film.

I started watching A Horrible Way to Die some time ago and got sidetracked; I only got back round to finishing it tonight, quite a while later (over a year later, if memory serves); because of this, I went back to the beginning and watched the entire thing again. It turns out that aside from a few flashes, I’d totally misremembered the bit I’d seen; I’m not sure whether that says more about the movie or me, but I found a great deal of it about as forgettable this time round. I’ve been a big fan of Adam Wingard’s ever since I caught Home Sick, his first feature (viz. review 7Feb09). A Horrible Way to Die, Wingard’s third feature, feels like an attempt to branch out. In that sense, it’s an admirable thing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it worked.

photo credit: Gores Truly

Hi, my name’s Garrick, and I’m here to kill you.

Plot: Garrick Turrell (The House of the Devil‘s AJ Bowen), a serial killer, seizes an opportunity and manages to escape from prison. He’s on his way home to his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Tiny Furniture‘s Amy Seimetz), now a recovering alcoholic trying to get on with her life, taking the first tentative steps toward romance with fellow ex-drunk Kevin (Kissing on the Mouth’s Joe Swanberg). Unfortunately, Garrick popping up could certainly throw a monkeywrench into those plans…

photo credit: Spectacular Optical

Hi, I’m Sarah. My turn-ons include drinking way too much, dating serial killers, and appearing in tiresome indie Lena Dunham comedies.

The biggest problem with the movie is scriptwriter Simon Barrett (DeadBirds)’s attempt to tell the story in a fragmented, non-linear fashion. (He tries to keep the viewer grounded by changing Garrett’s facial hair at the center of the fragmented time period; it does work, in a limited fashion, once you’ve seen the scene where Garrett shaves.) This isn’t Memento; it’s a genre horror film, big twist ending, naked dead bodies, gratuitous violence, and all, and it would have benefited from simply being a genre horror film. It’s not a terrible thing as is, but I got the feeling a number of times as I watched that a simple presentation would have become the material a great deal better than what we ended up with. ** ½


Trailer? But of course.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

One response »

  1. Pingback: You’re Next (2013): Bunny Games | Popcorn for Breakfast

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