Sweet, soused Sarah (Amy Seimetz) is a serial killer magnet. There's her ex Garrick (AJ Bowen) who's behind bars, and then there's creepy fellow AA frequenter Kevin (Joe Swanberg) who wants to be next in line for Sarah's misplaced affections. Between these two men, Sarah floats between the past and her possible future. When the two collide, Sarah becomes a plot twist pawn in a reasonably inventive fashion.
A Horrible Way To Die could be renamed A Horrible Way To Watch, and I'd die happy. This movie is one of the shakiest, shrillest, most headache inducing features I've had to sit through in quite some time — and as someone who's been resentfully enduring this seemingly never-ending trend for years now, that is saying a lot. For no apparent reason (no "found footage" conceit here), the camera bobs and weaves, focus fades in and out, while zooms zip and shudder from smooth to choppy. Music is dissonant, at best. I believe the aim was for a classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer bleakness, but all that's achieved is sluggish blankness.
Fortunately, A Horrible Way To Die has a decent script and good actors going for it. As per usual, AJ Bowen is the standout amongst his costars. As per unusual, he actually has more than just a few minutes onscreen. He's not exactly the lead (I guess that'd be Seimetz) but Garrick has an actual arc and we get to see what Bowen can do with more than just few memorable moments.
Also out on DVD this month is a serial killer of another kind: ChromeSkull. ChromeSkull (Nick Principe) is about as far from Garrick as one can get, but once again it's the actor who delivers the gory goods that gets the kudos for keeping it real (or unreal, in this case: Chromeskull is only almost human in his brutal bloodlust).
ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 features some name actors — most notably Brian Austin Green, but also Thomas Dekker and Danielle Harris — but the star of the show really is director Robert Hall and his considerable bag of tricks as the longtime guru at the Almost Human F/X studio. It's a marvel to watch kill after spectacular kill in this super-saturated gut-spilling spree. While I can't say I was all-in with the plot, the ballet of blood-letting — some of Hall's uncut long takes are reminiscent of Altman or Mamet, albeit in a completely different milieu — make this sequel well worth a look on Blu-ray. There's a perfect featurette here, Jump To A Kill, through which you can just check out ChromeSkull's considerable handiwork and skip that pesky plot.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson