Plot: What’s it about?
Sarah (Amy Seimetz) struggles to put the pieces of her life back together, after a traumatic turn of events in her past. She was the girlfriend of Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen), the notorious serial killer, but she was in the dark about his violent other life. While she knew he was gone often, she suspected him of cheating, not of murder. In the wake of that revelation, Sarah tried to clean herself up and start a new life, but it has been a tough climb. At an AA meeting she crossed paths with Kevin (Joe Swansberg) and the two sparked an instant connection. So in a new town with a new man at her side, Sarah continues to try to regain her life and put the past behind her. At the same time, Garrick has escaped from the authorities and is carving a path of violence and death. Even as Sarah is haunted by memories of him, Garrick stalks down the road and edges closer and closer to her. Can Sarah overcome her past and free herself from Garrick, or will he track her down and make sure she never forgets?
The realm of serial killer cinema is overrun with films that shock value over substance. But with A Horrible Way to Die, we see that when done right, this genre can produce chilling results. This movie is not soaked in blood or frantic in pace, instead it crafts a story that focuses on character and tension. The pace is slow at times, but the film is never dull, even in the most mundane moments it holds your attention. The atmosphere is intense and slowly builds over the course of the duration, getting more palpable and tight as the end draws near. While not a slasher movie by any means, A Horrible Way to Die does have some brutal, sudden moments that strike hard and fast. The violence is effective here in ways it often isn’t in other films, as it is woven into the story and plays off the development of the characters. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, you’ll appreciate the craftsmanship put into A Horrible Way to Die, as it wrings the tension out of the story with intense pressure. A haunting and realistic experience, A Horrible Way to Die is well worth a look from those interested.
Video: How does it look?
A Horrible Way to Die is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. This film uses frequent visual design choices that might lead you to think the transfer is flawed. The blurred, almost drunken approach is a little off putting at first, but it is an effective tool that has been preserved here. So from a technical perspective, the visuals come off as soft, even blurred in many scenes, but that is intentional and isn’t a mark against this treatment. The film looks just as it should, which is all we can ask.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is good, but didn’t strike me as memorable. The surrounds light up here and there to enhance the tension, which is nice. But this is kind of a reserved sound design, which meshes well with the film’s overall mood and works well enough. The dialogue is passable, but wanes at times, though that seems to be intentional also. The volume might need to be tweaked in some scenes, but overall, this is a solid audio presentation. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary with director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett is included, which is a must listen track for those who appreciated the film. This film is loaded with creative decisions that benefit from explanation, so you’ll want to give this session a spin, no doubt. This disc also includes a behind the scenes featurette.