The film going public has always gotten a kick out of movies that allow a glimpse into the mind of serial killers. Whether it’s based in gruesome reality with films like Bundy and 10 Rillington Place, or glossy fictional glamourisations of psychopaths like Silence of the Lambs and Mr Brooks, the fans have always lapped it up like cherry sauce on ice cream. The nineties in particular was rife with them, but the studios interest in making high quality films in the genre has begun to wane, be it down to a lack of original ideas or the fact that there aren’t enough opportunities to play with their lovely new CGI toys in the production of them. It’s definitely a shame because the low budget offerings over the past few years haven’t been anything to finish watching, never mind write home about, and the few big budget releases of recent years have been somewhat stilted and without real substance (Hanibal Rising) or puerile and sentimental like the book they were based on such as The Lovely Bones
A Horrible Way To Die is the story of escaped serial killer Garrett Turell on the corpse littered journey to find his ex girlfriend Sarah, who testified against him in court at his trial. Sarah, as you can imagine is pretty messed up, an alcoholic who is taking tentative steps to deal with her issues and put her past behind her in a new town, who begins to realise that if you’re the star of a horror film, then a little bit of mistrust and paranoia aint no bad thing in the long run.
Frankly I can’t praise this film enough, beautifully shot and acted, while managing to be both disturbing and sympathetic to the two main protagonists, though I fear its charm may be overlooked among every other low budget straight to DVD release on the shelves. There is nothing formulaic about the film, which is pleasantly refreshing and the humourless approach gives the film a realism and darkness that is distinctly lacking in the modern genre. There are no wisecracking sidekicks, or subtle nods to the audience, and though there is sex and a fair amount of gore and violence, none of it is gratuitous or flippant in the arc of the story, and if anything adds to the foreboding and intensity of the film.
If you prefer your serial killer films to be unrealistic and in your face, then this is not going to be any more than one long snooze, but if you are tired of being spoon fed by the studios and want something with the power to affect you long after the credits have rolled, then choose A Horrible Way to Die, because this is truly the thinking fans horror flick.