Handheld camera techniques have become a prominent style in the horror genre and these are pushed to the limit in Adam Wingard’s most recent film, A Horrible Way to Die. Here we’re told the story of Garrick Turrell, an escaped murderer hunting down his ex-girlfriend who turned him into the police. To make matters worse Turrell’s murders have now made him a cult figure with several fan pages and admirers.
Simon Barrett’s script has some interesting concepts but unfortunately is handled in an incredibly heavy handed and incoherent fashion. There’s an overreliance on flashbacks which simply makes the film far more confusing than it actually should be and there are also several issues with pacing – primarily taking far too long for anything of importance to happen. Unfortunately, A Horrible Way to Die’s visual style does not fare much better – the camera does not stop moving throughout, focusing on the most irrelevant details through unnecessary close-ups. It ultimately becomes a very nauseating watch and to add to the visual nastiness, there’s a strange unfocussed glowing effect in many of the interior scenes.
I unfortunately, got the impression that A Horrible Way to Die thinks it’s slightly better than it actually is. There’s no clear message and it’s not a particularly effective horror film being neither scary nor shocking. The acting is generally fine: AJ Bowen (Garick Turrell) & Amy Seimetz (Sarah, Garrett’s girlfrield) do fairly well but even these performances become sidetracked by the overbearing and unpleasant visual style.
This fairly interesting concept is spoilt by pacing issues and an incoherent structure, not to mention the amateurish direction and camerawork. A Horrible Way to Die may think it’s making a grand social commentary but it ultimately ends up being a horrible way to spend 83 minutes.