A Horrible Way to Die (2010)
Director: Adam Wingward
Sarah (Amy Seimetz) is trying to get shit life together; she's move to a new town, is attending AA meetings (the bottle keeps calling her name) and is even dabbling in the dating scene. Problem is, her ex lover and now famous serial killer Garrick (AJ Bowen), just broke out of the coop and he's on his way back to her. Love hurts yo!
Took me a while to jolt down my A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE review, cause I wanted to see it twice before I grabbed the bull by the stones. So I tapped it at Fantastic Fest 2010, then I spanked it at the 2010 Sitges Film Festival and now I feel willing, ready, hammered and able to vomit out my thoughts, pea soup style. Here we go go! Wear your raincoats!
A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE was a low key effort with a deliberately slow pace that gradually involved me more and more as it inched forward. The flick was situational and character driven first and the goods (i.e. the gore and nudity) were organic to the piece. Personally I felt for its lead character of Sarah (Seimetz), poor girl, just trying to get her shit together but yet, it seems that the energy around her has other plans in mind. Ya know when life just won't stop beating your ass? Sarah knows too. Amy Seimetz was simply magnificent as our lead gal. Cute yet awkward, endearing yet hard to discern, her grounded and layered show sold me on the character and hence upped the stakes of the situation at hand. She was definably the driving force behind the story and with a lesser actress it may not have worked. Story wise, well I was half and half as to how the flick went about it. On one end I respected its unorthodox storytelling approach, via fragments with no signs as to the time frame we were in other than A.J. Bowen's glorious facial hair. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I was lost like a straight dude at a gay rave and it would take me energy to figure out where I was, energy that I would have liked to invest in the narrative and the characters instead. With that, hey it was different, so rubber's off for that.
Visually, the flick echoed its subject matter. Drab with almost washed out colors. Wingward's bag was an also semi cinema verite style with lots of hand held camera work, out of focus tricks and swift zoom ins. The manner in which he went about it had me be intimate with the film, no i didn’t nail it or anything, but I felt like I was there, close to the happenings and the peeps within it, so when the whoopass kicked in, it uppercut me and sent me to the mat. And I can't go on with this review without mentioning actor A.J. Bowen and the fabulous work he did here with his role. Frightening, likable and more importantly believable in the role of a serial killer who is not black or white, but a thick shade of gray. For the next two weeks I will see A.J.'s face on every chick I screw, yes his showcase was that memorable. Wow. Add to all that a morose yet moving score, random moments of harsh gore that kicked me in the nads, superior editing and a biting finale that added an all new dimension to the film I was watching thus far and you get a low budget chiller with most of its whores in a row.
Alas, as I mentioned before, the puzzle like way the film spit its story worked for it and against it. Me being too busy trying to situate myself equals me stepping out of the experience to play detective. The ploy was a half and half successful one. Moreover, if I see one more Christmas light I'm gonna shoot myself in the head and say Hoe Hoe Hoe. For some reason, Christmas lights were the main set dressing when it came to Sarah's place and it became visually irritating after some time. Same thing went for Wingward's tendency to often pan down after a scene, the trick was cool at first but after seeing it a 100 times, it made the imagery redundant. At last, at an hour in I saw where the film was going and then waited for it to catch up. Not a biggie, cause getting there was a hoot nonetheless and the last frames did take me aback...so no harm but I had to spit it out.
All in all A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, was a well paced, gripping and depressing ride. Nothing mainstream here as it was more of a morbid love story than a horror flick, but I dug it the most. It's one of them movies where you have to see the FULL PICTURE and then digest it before being able to have an opinion on it. Well it was for me anyways. In the mood for a solemn slice of horror life? This one's for you!
It got nasty. We get a slit throat, choking, gun shot wounds, a knife under the chin and through the mouth and cuts in the face. Yeesh!
T & A
It was a free for all E orgy! Titties over here and Semetz melons over there. The ladies got some dude's ass, and two cheeks belonged to A.J. Bowen. Have fun gals, whip out them dildos! Bzzzzzzzzz!
A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE was a subtle, artsy, smooth sailing little chiller, with a stellar cast (Seimetz and Bowen blew my mind) and a cap off that revealed an added coating that so appealed to me. Granted some of the visual tricks were redundant and I did see where it was going before it did, but overall, I recommend this bitter pill to those of you who are in the mood for something well done on most levels and that tramples the mainstream and conventions to do its on twisted thing. All involved should be proud! Oh and one more thing, in the last block, I was actually chanting: A.J.! A.J.! A.J., so yeah, the dude owned this flick like nobody's bitch! Props Bowen!
Look out for producer Travis Stevens in a cameo as a recovering booze abuser...yeah right!
The flick was a shot in Columbia, Missouri, USA.