A Horrible Way To Die review

Banana Rating: 2 out of 5

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.