The Bottom Line
- Interesting plot
- Nonlinear storytelling
- Good primary cast
- Distracting camerawork
- Dull, overly realistic dialogue
- Annoying helpless victims
- Mediocre supporting cast
- Starring AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg, Brandon Carroll, Lane Hughes, Melissa Boatright, Whitney Moore
- Directed by Adam Wingard
- Rated R
- DVD Release Date: September 6, 2011
Guide Review - 'A Horrible Way to Die' DVD Review
The prospect of a psycho murderer tracking her down doesn't stop her, however, from starting a romantic relationship with fellow AA member Kevin (Joe Swanberg), nor does it make her feel obliged to inform Kevin that he may very well be gutted with a knife at any given moment. Thanks a lot, Sarah. Anyway, Garrick leaves a trail of bodies in his wake as he tracks Sarah down for the inevitable final confrontation blah blah blah.
For those of you familiar with the so-called mumblecore movement in filmmaking, "blah blah blah" should be a familiar refrain. This talky brand of movie relies on documenting interpersonal relationships in a highly realistic manner, including dialogue-heavy scenes that sacrifice action or extensive plotting in favor of inconsequential, awkward talking...and talking...and talking. Horror fans might have gotten a taste of this style in 2008's Baghead, a mumblecore drama disguised as borderline genre film, or the mumblecore-ish 2010 DTV flick Four Boxes.
And now there's A Horrible Way to Die, a not-quite-horrible way to spend 90 minutes, but one that will try many genre fans' patience with its plodding pace and inane banter. Equally trying is the direction of Adam Wingard (Pop Skull), who apparently feels that holding the camera steady for even a second is not in accordance with his artistic sensibility. Thus, we get constant, disorienting camera movement in even the most perfunctory scenes, a strategy that was edgy back in the days of NYPD Blue, but now it just feels forced and pretentious.
The core plot of A Horrible Way to Die is nonetheless intriguing, and the nonlinear storytelling keeps viewers on their toes, but they aren't enough to overcome the filmmaking style. Bowen is a charismatic, likable actor who's made a name for himself in horror movies like The Signal, The House of the Devil and Hatchet II, but as an unstoppable killing machine, he seems miscast. The scenes with him stalking his prey are repetitive and predictable, while the scenes with Sarah and Kevin are bleak and uninteresting. Only in the final climactic 10 minutes do we get any real intrigue, but by then, it's too late for all involved.
Special features include commentary and a featurette.