Embark on a trip into a quiet, paranoid world where ugly things happen behind closed doors and down desolate country roads. Garrick (A.J. Bowen) has escaped from prison and is on the run. His ordinary looks and casual demeanour mask his menacing true nature – that of an unassuming serial killer who can’t control his compulsion to kill. Disguising his appearance and driving along interstates under the cover of night, he leaves a trail of corpses as he makes his way across the country.
Meanwhile, Sarah (Amy Seimetz) spends her days working as a dental hygienist and her evenings in AA meetings. She slowly opens up to the support group and makes a tentative romantic connection with fellow member Kevin (Joe Swanberg). Awkward in their newfound sobriety, they bump and fumble in their courtship until Sarah gradually gains the confidence to reveal a dark secret from her wounded past – a secret that, unbeknownst to her, is about to resurface.
The two juxtaposed storylines interweave as the film progresses, allowing the mystery to unfold at its own contemplative pace. While the title might imply a degree of exploitation and nastiness, director Adam Wingard triumphs in placing the dramatic narrative ahead of genre conventions. Still, the frenetic tension is palpable as it builds to a boiling point and the characters’ secrets are gradually revealed.
Wingard gained attention for numerous videos and shorts, as well as his micro-budget, head-trip features Home Sick and Pop Skull, which were both self-financed and made with friends. He’s developed a keen cinematic eye, melding striking imagery with intricately layered soundscapes to create emotionally honest characters and an intimate atmosphere. A Horrible Way to Die marks the arrival of a fresh, dedicated vision in independent American cinema. –TIFF
Adam Wingard (born December 3, 1982) is an American film director, editor, cinematographer, and writer.
Wingard was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He graduated from Full Sail University in 2002.
Wingard’s first feature, the horror-comedy Home Sick, starring genre icon Bill Moseley and scream queen Tiffany Shepis, proved to be a stepping stone to his second feature, the psychotropic ghost story thriller Pop Skull. Made on a total budget of $2,000, Pop Skull had its international premiere at the Rome Film Festival and its domestic premiere at the AFI Film Festival in 2007. A Horrible Way to Die (2010) and What Fun We Were Having (2011) followed. The serial killer love story thriller A Horrible Way to Die premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in the ‘Vanguard’ section and was acquired by Starz/Anchor Bay at the festival for a North American theatrical and home media release. What Fun We Were Having is a 4-part anthology dealing with the taboo subject of… read more
Amy Seimetz and A.J. Bowen are phenomenal in this and alongside a pretty good twist at the end - almost salvage this mess of a movie. This flick would've worked a lot better if Wingard played it straight. I really don't understand the decision to mess with the focus incessantly and have the handheld cam shake all over the place, it was totally unnecessary, the aesthetic added nothing to the theme of the movie.
Way too many out of focus transitions and fade to blacks. It just seems very lazy to me. And the story itself has a lot of holes. Having said that, I'll watch Amy Seimetz in anything. She's like a cross between Sarah and Greta Gerwig. Then again, maybe not.
This is a terrible trick of a film. Would you expect a mumblecore drama based on this title? Because that’s what this is. I haven’t seen many mumblecore films but I’ve seen enough to know that I’m not a fan of it. And if the genre can’t be improved by adding a serial killer murdering his way across the country, I don’t think it has any business existing.
Very creepy mood piece. I liked the style of the camerawork, editing and music. It does have one flaw in the narrative that kind of took me out of film though: (*SPOILER*) Why wouldn't Sarah ask the police, or the FBI, for protection once she knew that Garrick was in town following her? Why would she go to a cabin in the woods instead of calling the police? Seemed like bad writing just to move the plot forward.
Wingard and Simon Barrett’s followup to A Horrible Way to Die has swept the Fantastic Fest awards.
A roundup of horror-related reads, lists, remembrances and reviews.