Occasionally, and I mean very occasionally, a film comes along that, while I’m knee-deep in its storyline, I just cannot decide whether what I’m watching is brilliance or pure tripe.

And, the truth is, two days removed from taking in A Horrible Way To Die I still cannot make my mind up.

I suppose the reality is the film is a bit of both, with moments of inspiration countered by segments that are likely to infuriate.

One thing that is for sure though is that this is far removed from your run-of-the-mill serial-killer chiller, and definitely warrants a watch.

On paper it all seems so-so – a notorious serial killer busts out of captivity and goes on the run, looking to gain his revenge on the woman who put him behind bars.

But that really is just scratching the surface of director Adam Wingard’s tale, which morphs into a beast of its own thanks to a neat script from Simon Barrett.

The story is essentially told in two strands, with the focus being on both the survivor Sarah (Amy Seimetz) and the killer Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen).

Sarah is taking her tentative steps back into socialising after the nightmare she has suffered previously, while Turrell is slashing throats as he makes his way across the country.

Each time you think you know where the story is heading though a jolt sends it in a fresh direction, and that element really works.

The acting is also extremely impressive right across the board, with Seimetz in particular turning in a noteworthy performance.

The film wears its low-budget badge with pride, and it has a documentary feel to it at times that had me thinking back to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

The downsides though come in the extremely episodic nature of the storytelling, with scenes jumping from the present to the past and vice-versa with alarming regularity, leaving the viewer to constantly scramble and readjust to keep up.

There is also far too much ‘clever’ camera work, with an over-reliance on soft focus and abrupt cutting of scenes that in the end proves frankly annoying.

Wingard clearly has ability, and his latest film, V/H/S, is earning some rave reviews on the festival circuit.

And, while there were definite moments during A Horrible Way To Die that I was getting pretty restless, I would still recommend it for those who like their horror with a bit of a difference.

 

Extras: Behind the Scenes footage

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.