Pity the poor actors in A Horrible Way To Die. They do a pretty great job, especially Amy Seimetz as the alcoholic ex-girlfriend of a serial killer who’s escaped from jail.
All her efforts are almost undone by a director who can’t keep the camera still for more than a second. Or who thinks it’s so cool to have out-of-focus objects in the foreground for every other shot.
Like a film school drop out, foolishly convinced of his own greatness, Adam Wingard constantly gets in the way of the story, jumping up and down, screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!”
It’s one of the most irritating, and distracting ways of directing a movie I’ve seen in a while. Fuzzy blobs of light drift hypnotically across the screen, obscuring the action and the actors in pivotal scenes. Whole exchanges of dialogue go by, the likes of Amy Seimetz drawing deep from the emotional well, only to be ruined by the camera wobbling all over the place, looking at the floor, the ceiling, just about anywhere but the actor’s faces.
The perfect drinking game
And then there’s the flashbacks. In the present, the serial killer is making his journey across America. And rather easily it has to be said, considering he’s quite a distinctive looking guy, and the focus of a nationwide manhunt — having a shave seems to fool pretty much everyone he meets, cops included. In the past he has different facial hair, at least giving me an anchor point for the slightly confusing timelines. No such luck with his ex-girlfriend. Past and present for her just seem to get mixed up rather haphazardly at times.
A big hit at the Toronto International Film Festival, it apparently won a lot of praise. It was this that drew me to the film in the first place. It didn’t, as far I’m aware, get a nationwide release in the UK (although it did show up at the Leeds International Film Festival). When this happens, there’s always a chance that putting the movie in the disc tray will result in the discovery of a new gem.
Sadly not the case with A Horrible Way to Die.
Looking on the bright side, if you ever need an excuse to get really drunk, A Horrible Way to Die has the perfect drinking game. Every time the camera loses focus and pans downwards at the end of a scene, knock back a whiskey. If you manage it to the end of the movie with your liver intact, you’ll be as hammered as the director seems to have been when making it.