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A Horrible Way to Die [Blu-ray]

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada
  • Release Date: Sept. 6 2011
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0055V0K90
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,083 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Horrible Way To D(Br)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
A Horrible Way to Die reminded me, in many ways, of the French-Dutch film, Spoorloos (or The Vanishing, to English audiences); more character study than straight up horror film. Through its characters, it examines the means by which violence twines its way into the lives of many, connecting them in unexpected and often tragic ways.

Sarah is a recovering alcoholic trying to move forward with her life, even beginning a new relationship with a fellow group member, the endearingly awkward Kevin. We learn much of Sarah's history through flashbacks and, as her ex-boyfriend, convicted serial killer Garrick Turrell, escapes from prison, her past barrels inexorably into her present and future.

At times, the film seems to drag a little, but these slower moments are like troughs in an unsteady sea, luring the viewer into a false sense of security only to jar you with a swell of violence. Still, the violence is restrained. The terror here is psychological. Most violence is shown only after the fact in sudden, gory flashes that barely allow you to process what you've seen. It's an effective strategy that makes A Horrible Way to Die a more accessible film than the average slasher flick.

Glancing at other reviews of the film, I notice that a common criticism is its shaky camera shots. It is true that the unsteady camera sometimes goes too far, dipping from stylish to annoying, but I personally found that the documentary look served to imbue the film with a stark, cold realism. The overworking of the camera's focus ring, however, did often feel intrusive and could have been toned way down.

Overall, I was impressed with writer Simon Barrett's and director Adam Wingard's film and look forward to seeing their latest, You're Next. A Horrible Way to Die is an intelligent horror-thriller that successfully creates tension through tone and mood rather than violence and gore.
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By The Movie Guy HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Oct. 2 2015
Format: DVD
The movie opens with a murder during the cold of fall. A man wakes up from dozing off in his car. He gets out and opens the trunk and removes a bound and gagged woman. He apologizes for having nodded off, assures her everything is going to be alright and then kills her. Note when he gets out of the car, the door does not chime, i.e. keys are out of the ignition, but then when he gets back in it chimes, i.e. keys are somehow in the ignition. I hate it when a movie does this. Is this by design a clue or stupidity on the director's part?

We switch to a dowdy looking blond (Amy Seimetz as Sarah) is at an AA meeting. She is 3 months sober. Some guy hits on her and they go out, and we discover that alcoholics are socially inept.

Meanwhile the subplot continues with a prisoner looking like Zach Garifalakis (AJ Bowen as Garrick Turrell ) is being transferred in a police car under guard and carefully watched. Garrick espies a small screw rolling around on the floorboard...

Sarah is a nurse, who happens to be Garret's ex-girlfriend in hiding. Got the plot figured out yet?

But things aren't that simple.

The mystery of the movie is what twist is this thing setting us up for? There are clues along the way as things don't fit. The car door chime wasn't one of them, that was just poor editing.

Clever? yes. Entertaining? Not really that powerful. The movie didn't feel like a slasher film. It felt more like a mystery or drama. The stabbings, wounds, and blood appeared realistic enough, which means bright red liquid doesn't squirt 3 feet into the air.

I think they could have done better on the title.

F-bomb, near sex scene, brief nudity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e06a54c) out of 5 stars 73 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4921138) out of 5 stars Well Written But Horribly Filmed Sept. 21 2011
By David Swan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I was so excited to get this film. The title of my review would be `A Horrible Film to Watch'. All I had to do now was sit through this direct to video dreck and then slap out a review. Problem is the movie wasn't bad and I had to shelve my snarky review title. Sure it has problems but by and large I think it's successful in achieving the director's vision (for better or for worse).

The story basically follows two threads. First, we follow serial killer Garrick Turrell as he escapes police capture and resumes his killing spree. We actually spend quite a bit of time with the killer and it's clear that he's tortured [so to speak] by his own evil acts even as he commits them. This could have been handled in an eye rolling manner but I thought it was actually done quite well. AJ Bowen gives a pretty good performance as a self loathing killer. In fact I thought the casting overall was well done. The other storyline follows a pair of recovering alcoholics, Sarah and Kevin, who begin a relationship after they meet at an AA meeting. Based on the title I assumed that at some point Sarah, Kevin and Garrick would meet and someone, maybe everyone, would die horribly. It wasn't something I looked forward to since the director did a good job of making Sarah and Kevin both believable and sympathetic. My concern was that the director was just setting the audience up for an extended, cringe worthy torture scene. I won't spill the beans on what happens but the ending was not as I predicted.

So where does the movie go wrong? The photography is vomit inducing. The camera pans in, the camera pans out, we get weird little cuts and sometimes it feels like the cameraman just sort of gently goes to sleep as the camera slowly falls away. Most scenes end with the camera losing focus causing me eyestrain. The romantic scenes were filmed through Christmas lights creating obnoxious light globes on the screen. I guess this is supposed to be some kind of voyeur cam as if the viewer is watching the events from a hidden location but my vision doesn't constantly go out of focus and my head doesn't shake like I'm having an epileptic seizure.

If you're looking for blood and gore this is not the movie for you and I think the film is better for it. In fact it's generally quite tame given the subject matter. If you can get past the horrible and amateurish camera work it's actually an intriguing film with an unexpected and satisfying ending. Many of the scenes are presented out of chronological order which is somewhat confusing but works fairly well to keep the audience off balance. This isn't Silence of the Lambs quality stuff here but for a direct to video film it's pretty good. Now if director Adam Wingard can just stop with the artsy film editing and camera work he might be able to make something suitable for the big screen.

BTW: I love Wikipedia's description of the plot, "A movie about a boy and his journey when he makes a deal with the devil. Then he breaks it." Um, no, that is not the plot of the movie.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4921ae0) out of 5 stars An intelligent and dramatic film....wait this is a horror movie? Oct. 13 2011
By The Straw Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I am not sure why but I expected so much less from this movie when I popped it in my DVD player. I cannot explain why I had this bias, but I did. I am very happy to say that this movie surprised me. I found it to be very engaging, different, disturbing and (somewhat) believable. In other words, I really liked it.

To summarize the plot, Sarah (Amy Seimetz) is recently sober and has been attending AA meetings for about four months. Still waters run deep with Sarah and it is written over her face that there is emotional turbulence plaguing her life. In her home group she meets Kevin (Joe Swanberg) and an awkward intimacy blooms between the two of them. Meanwhile, Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen) is an extremely dangerous serial killer who has just escaped from prison and is on the run. As he eludes the authorities he begins killing again. Garrick's goal is to go after Sarah; she is both his ex-girlfriend and the one who turned him in.

I do not want to minimize the plot, but this is basically the story. I am not attempting to belittle the story, but it isn't very complex. Notwithstanding, the manner in which the tale unfolds is what makes it unique. The narrative is interwoven; the present and former events are blended together. A perfect example of this is Sarah working and then going to AA meeting morphs to her being at home with Garrick. The movie isn't very linear. I actually find non-liner to be very refreshing, yet even I was befuddled at times. As for the violence, it is true dualism in the sense that it is subtle and graphic. Some of the killings are left to the imagination and others are a splatter fest. This is a movie making ruse I haven't seen before and I welcomed it.

I felt the acting in this film was really good. Amy Seimetz was very believable as the fragile woman with a damaged past. Sarah was a low key character but I had an investment in what happened to her. I have only seen AJ Bowen in "House of the Devil" (which was a great horror flick) but his performance in that film was a little one dimensional, good but one dimensional. In AHWTD Bowen's acting was very, very layered which gave his antagonist depth.

The pace of the movie is slow and at times it is like treacle dripping off a spoon. Honestly, I didn't mind it because it gave the movie a "character piece" feel to it. However, I could see how it could turn some viewers off. There were a few scenes that I felt were a bit too winded.

Nevertheless, the one aspect that really keeps this film from being a five star movie is the cinematography. There are more scenes that I can count where the camera goes out of focus for no apparent reason. In addition there are scenes where characters are talking and the camera just wanders off, drops up, drops down or all of the above. I am not sure if the camera man was somebody's drunken uncle who begged for a job but it was very obnoxious. I am all for "off the cuff" camera work but it was ridiculous in this movie.

Yet what really seals the deal for this movie is the denouement, it blew me away. How the events all tied to together was marvelous and really set this movie apart from the mindless drones of modern horror cinema. I would strongly recommend this movie for the horror fan who wants a little drama and a little intelligence with their blood.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa49215b8) out of 5 stars A different kind of serial killer film Sept. 28 2011
By trashcanman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Don't be misled by A Horrible Way to Die's misleading grindhouse-tastic title. Up until the film's final minutes, there is but one onscreen death, and every Argento fan has seen much worse. This is not an exploitative B-horror movie filling the screen with blood and death. This is a slow-burn lead-up that takes two character threads and slowly brings them together into one of the most never-see-it-coming sequence of twists I've ever seen. Up until then it's not really a thrilling film, and actually seems to suffer from an identity crisis of sorts while leaving questions unanswered (like "how does seeing a screw on the floor of a police car equal an escape from custody?") in it's push to get to the finale. But if you are a fan of serial killer films, I can't honestly say you should pass this one by. It is a rare original.

A Horrible Way to Die is the story of two people. One, a notorious serial killer with a rabid online fan base, and the other an innocent woman trying to get her life together through Alcoholics Anonymous. While the killer evades police and racks up his body count while on the road, the woman begins a relatably awkward romance with a fellow recovering alcoholic. What these two stories have to do with one another, you will have to wait and see. The film takes it's time slowly filling in backstory and details of the past using flashbacks, but once it gets there AHWTD really earns it's stripes.

As serial killer films go, this is one that eschews both the standards of Hollywood and the excesses of slasher and hardcore horror films. This one is first and foremost about the characters, and the cast does an excellent job of portraying the vulnerability of it's characters. In fact, at the Fantastic Fest film festival, this film earned not only a Best Screenplay award, but Best Actor and Actress awards as well. It's not the scariest film or the goriest, but it is definitely different, and that scores a lot of points with me.

In spite of the film's uniqueness, AHWTD doesn't always live up to it's award-winning pedigree. The title is misleading to the point of being baffling given that it is so tame in comparison to the works of guys like Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Takashi Miike, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and even Chan Wook Park. Second, a film shouldn't really feel as slow as this one at a mere 85 minutes. There's a lot of character work that the actors should be commended for, but much of it is unnecessary to the story, such as the focus on AA. The climax is intense, delightfully ironic, completely surprising, and really makes this film. The ending is a little bit abrupt, but it certainly does it's job of really changing the way you look at the killer.

Serial killer fanatics should absolutely give this film a watch. The vulnerability of the leads is outstanding, the finale is sweet, and there is plenty more to like about AHWTD. Hardcore horror fanatics looking for a cheap-thrill-a-minute with buckets of gore and girl-girl love scenes with hulking killers chasing stumbling teens around and/or spending minutes on end in graphic torture sequences should definitely give this one a pass. There is some genuine brutality here, but it is brief and never lingered on or glorified. Basically, if you've got patience and an appreciation for the original, give this one a shot.

3 ½ stars, rounded up for ending with a bang.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4921f0c) out of 5 stars Sad sad sad Aug. 15 2013
By Stephanie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I find it very sad that people nowadays cannot enjoy a well thought out thought-provoking indie film and instead spend their time watching repetitive, overdone, glamorized Hollywood flicks. This is not to say this movie is for everyone but it is much much better than 2.5 stars.

After watching this film and "Pop Skull" I believe Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are quite the team. The scripting and plot are way out of mainstream and are extremely clever and original. I do not think everything is perfect about this movie (hence one star knock off). For example the title is terrible. Extremely misleading and unoriginal compared to the originality of the film. The film also isn't a gore fest or torture porn yet is wildly disturbing and surprisingly realistic. The directing, as said before is outstanding and contrary to other reviews the acting is believable. The thing that truly pulls this film down is not the directing or the scripting but the filming. The cinematography is terrible. It truly surprises me Wingard allowed it to be this way.

Go into this film with an open mind as, chances are, it isn't what you're expecting. This is a very good indie flick, enjoy it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa49220c8) out of 5 stars Not a "Horrible" viewing but... Nov. 11 2011
By D. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product
nothing overly memorable either. It's low-budget, and while the cast and crew do an admirable job of covering up most of the rough edges, the usual sub-par acting and middling plot are unshakable. The movie deals with a recently escaped serial killer on a quest to find his true love, with a trail of bodies left in his wake. Attempts to make the antagonist more interesting include a movie-star type reception to him with fans and female groupies(which bugged me a lot because it's never explained why? He's not a ravishing stud or shown to have any charismatic elements), and "sympathetic" bouts of mourning after he kills(*Yawn*). The protagonist isn't much better, battling alcoholism and depression in the aftermath of finding out her boyfriend was a psychopath. The movie is tough to peg an audience for, it's not really horror(in that it's never scary), though it does have some decent scenes of grue... bored late night on a movie channel I can give the green light for, otherwise I'd say skip.