Directed by: Adam Wingard
Starring: AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg

A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE may sound like a cheesy slasher flick or an over the top torture movie, but I can assure you that it is miles away from either. Instead you will find yourself descending into a lonely, cold and desperate character piece with a dynamic presentation and a simple but incredibly well executed story.

Two main stories make up the bulk of the film, with a third being the glue which binds them together. First we have the story of Garrick Turrel, a prolific serial killer who has just escaped police custody and continues his murder spree as he makes his way through back-roads and lonely highways to his ex-girlfriend.
Next we have Sarah's story. Sarah is Garrick's ex whom after ending their relationship is trying to get on with her life as best she can. She regularly attends AA meetings to help cope with her alcoholism, and it is at these meetings that she meets and begins a relationship with the kindhearted Kevin.
Thirdly is the area in between. Every now and then we see flashbacks of Sarah's life with Garrick and we find out why Sarah is so screwed up.
I won't say anymore, because honestly I think the less you know bout the movie, the better.

At first I found the story a little confusing and difficult to follow, because it chops and changes between current happenings and flashbacks so often and sometimes seamlessly. But eventually I settled into a groove and it all went pretty smoothly after that.
Obviously the movie has put style above substance when it comes to the more violent scenes, with most murders actually happening off screen. But I actually felt that this worked well and fit in with the whole mood of the film. And speaking of style, the camera work is one aspect of this movie which will definitely divide viewers. You'll love it or hate it, there really is no middle ground. I personally loved it. It's deliberately shaky and often moves in and out of focus, and for the most part it seems as though a stranger is filming these characters from outside a window or behind the bushes. It is intimate yet somehow detached at the same time. I thought it worked extremely well, but I know a lot of people will find it terrible.
Still on the subject of style I have to comment on the sound and color grading, both of which I loved and both of which fit the whole desolate mood perfectly.

All of the actors played their parts perfectly. AJ Bowen was especially great as Garrick, and the contrast between the scenes of his sinister side and his more loving side while with Sarah is both frightening and powerful. Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg as Sarah and Kevin were also great, and their more personal intimate scenes were very organic and believable.

If you're looking for a lazy horror film which requires zero thinking and unfolds effortlessly before you, then look elsewhere. But if you want a dark and disturbing thriller which will challenge you and leave you feeling satisfied then I highly recommend this.

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