Let's get this out of the way before we really get going; last we saw director Adam Wingard, he gave us a movie that we thought sucked major dog dick, named Pop Skull. If memory serves, it was a pretentious, artsy, mind trip that grated on our nerves and made us wish our own skulls would pop so that we could forget what we had just seen.
That being said...
A Horrible Way to Die is leaps and bounds better than the aforementioned Wingard flick, despite suffering from a few major flaws.
We aren't going to get too in depth on plot details here, because this really is a movie that could be majorly spoiled by saying too much, and that would be a huge disservice to everyone who is going to watch it. The story revolves around a sullen, recovering alcoholic named Sarah who looks a bit like she's been ridden hard and put away wet... mainly because she has. There's also a fairly prolific serial killer named Garrick Turrell who has just escaped from prison to resume his bloody, evil ways.
As the fibers of the story spin and weave themselves together, a creepy -and yes even sad- tapestry begins to take shape, and it looks as if the already dreary and tense atmosphere of the whole thing is about to become even more so. It gets bloody and tense. That's all were saying as far as specifics go.
AHWTD is a bleak, atmospheric and almost disjointed movie... hell, it's purposefully disjointed in many places, using flashbacks and slight of hand to get us where were going, which is a crazy good and refreshingly different sort of resolution. It's a serial killer movie. Better yet it's an escaped-serial-killer-on-a-mission movie. And the mission? Well, it's one of blood and regret, and twisted vengeance.
AJ Bowen steals the show here playing a humanized monster who can't control his need to kill, but feels bad about it on some deeper level. Sure, it's a familiar story as serial killers go, but the way Bowen portrays it for us was a thing of greatness. Amy Seimetz nailed her part too, playing the downtrodden victim perfectly.
Most of the movie is visually captivating, with its use of shadow and light making some shots near perfect to behold. There is one little visual aspect that made us want to punch the screen though, and that's the use, and overuse, of the dreaded "shaky cam." Throughout the movie there were scenes and moments that seemed as if the camera man was in the beginning stages of a grand mal seizure, and honestly, it annoyed the hell out of us. Luckily, the rest of the movie worked so well that it didn't feel as bad as it could have.
There are plot holes to found within, though small and hardly distracting enough to be a true detriment to the movie. Then a gain were here to be creeped out and see some cool kills, so logic can take a back seat for minute or two, right?
What really got us though, and what made the movie so damned great in the end, was the actual end itself. The way that Wingard brought everything together gave reason to everything that came before, and we were absolutely impressed with the results. It was soooooo nice to see a great ending for a change, because as horror fans you know all too well that far too many endings these days suck, and sometimes even ruin an otherwise good movie. That's not the case here.
The Master Says- B+ Bloody, engrossing, clever and satisfying, A Horrible Way to Die is one of the better horror movies we've seen this year. With about 10 minutes left in the movie we were thinking we had just watched a C+ movie, which couldn't score any higher because of a few plot holes and the whole seizure cam thing, but the ending changed our minds. This is one rewarding horror experience that everyone should endure. Not if you're prone to seizures though.
Final Thoughts- There are a bunch of hotties in this movie, but most of them spend their screen time dying as opposed to doing sexy things. At least they made dying look good.