Thursday, 1 September 2011



Do you remember when you got your first camcorder? On those first few tapes you tend to have a usable shooting ratio of about twenty thousand to one - you end up with endless hours of blurs and blobs and static shots of sod all, playing with the autofocus, zooming in and out of faces. You realise you can stand 500 feet away from people and still film them in merciless closeup, you discover nice little visuals like street lights out of focus. And out of those endless hours there'll be a few nice shots, arrived at purely by chance, that are worth keeping. Well, as far as a visual aesthetic is concerned, Adam Wingard's film is like that.

A Horrible Way To Die is unremittingly terrible and so incompetently put together that I genuinely needed to check the synopsis in the programme to be clear what the hell was going on. A serial killer - one of those absurdly charismatic types who inspire cults of pathetic devotees in spite of the fact that he's a mass murderer - escapes from jail and heads straight for his ex whose testimony put him away in the first place. She's a recovering alcoholic who's finally met a new man with whom there's a chance of a fresh start, but can it be that simple?

There's nothing particularly wrong with that setup: it covers the basics perfectly well. Good guy, homicidal maniac on the run, pretty girl oblivious to her impending doom, some sort of twist at the end. It's the execution that's so wretched. Much of the camerawork is hopelessly amateurish - light blobs all over the place for swathes of time, the poor focus frequently reducing the underlit image to an indiscernible brown murk. Is that the girl? Is it a horse? The south side of Kilimanjaro? What the hell am I supposed to be looking at here? Nor, frankly, could I raise any interest in the characters - the apparently intended victim and her new boyfriend especially are monumentally tiresome and endless scenes of bleatings at AA meetings do not make compelling drama. It's a dull film, it's visually abominable and 95 minutes have rarely felt so much like a fortnight.


(The worst part is, I chose this film over the Adam Green / Joe Lynch portmanteau Chillerama in the other screen, which would have at least had a couple of decent bum jokes and maybe some tits.)

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