Sitting in the same area of discomfort as Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer and Snowtown, A Horrible Way To Die may not quite work as well as those two movies but it’s still an impressive, unsettling work that shows the mindset of a serial killer and the impact he can have on the lives of those who get entangled in his web.
Jumping about from present to past with very few signposts to help the viewer, some may dislike A Horrible Way To Die and view it as nothing more than a jumbled and slow moving wallow in nastiness. As is so often the case with this type of film, I would disagree and I defend this film as one of the best representations of the “aftershocks” of horrendous crime that I have ever seen. For something remotely comparable I’d have to point you towards something that mixes The Pledge and Zodiac but that focuses on a person who isn’t attached to the investigation in any official capacity.
A. J. Bowen plays one scary mofo, Garrick Turrell, a serial killer who wants to do nothing more than escape his captors and hunt down his ex-girlfriend. Amy Seimetz plays Sarah, that unfortunate ex-girlfriend. But this is no thrilling hunter/prey movie, oh no. This is a study of emotional scars that lie just below the surface and can still make you wince at the slightest prod.
Sarah is attending meetings to help her battle her problems with alcohol, problems which are understandable as the movie reveals more and more backstory, and it’s clear that she’s a damaged human being. It’s also clear that she hopes to fix herself and her life and viewers will hope for the best as she develops a friendship/relationship with Kevin (Joe Swanberg), a fellow meeting attendee. But the shadow cast by Turrell looms large, possibly even larger than we could envision.
Written by Simon Barrett and directed by Adam Wingard, this is not a movie to watch if you want your ears tickled by wonderful dialogue or your eyes soothed by lush visuals. It’s a movie anchored by superb performances from the main players involved and one that keeps you slightly on your toes as you try to keep up with the changes in scenery/time/tone. The movie plays out in a way that makes the viewer stay guarded, not quite sure as to what is coming next or where it is coming from, and in that respect it’s probably one of the better films to show the life of someone living with a dangerous individual.
It’s not an easy film to recommend, nor an easy one to watch, but if you enjoyed the films I mentioned in the opening paragraph then you should find something worth watching here, uncomfortable as it is.
A Horrible Way To Die is tagged and bagged and ready to buy from Monday 19th March.
DIRECTOR: ADAM WINGARD
WRITER: SIMON BARRETT
STARS: A. J. BOWEN, AMY SEIMETZ, JOE SWANBERG, BRANDON CARROLL, LANE HUGHES
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX