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A Horrible Way To Die (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373697

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373697

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Films- 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 87 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Music by: Jasper Justice Lee
Written by: Simon Barrett
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 6, 2011

"If you knew you were going to die and you could choose how...what would you choose?"

Film Synopsis:

An escaped murderer is in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, who has fled to start a new life in a small town.

My Take:

'A Horrible Way to Die' is the story of notorious serial killer Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen of Hatchet 2). Turrell has escaped from police custody during a transfer and is en route to find his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Amy Seimetz). Sarah is in AA and trying to put her life back together after the realization her boyfriend is a killer. She is living in a small town in secret, minding her own business. Things change when she starts a new fling with fellow AA member, Kevin (Joe Swanberg). As Turrell makes way to finding Sarah, he leaves a brutal wake of death behind him.

'A Horrible Way to Die' started off with promise, being unique and artistic. It had its own look, realistic character development and a brooding pace that just made me feel weird. This eventually turned to a long winded 90 minutes with too much emphases on strange camera work and its jumbled time-line, when it should have been in pacing and a stronger development of the horror. I believe the writing/directing duo of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard intentions were in the right place and they certainly are talented. I do look forward to seeing how they progress in the future, I just feel they need to relax and not try too hard to impress, and learn it's substance over style. They really were super close, as the new relationship between Sarah and Mike had a realistic charm, while the flip-side to their story, the road trip of serial killer Garrick Turrell, felt realistic in how he was an emotionless killing machine. If the early momentum was ridden to the twist at the films climax, we would have had a winner.

Parental Guide:

Rated R for disturbing bloody violence and images, language, some sexuality and nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 82

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373694

  • Low frequency ex7tension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373698

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373697

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373697

Video: 82

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373697

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=121037369
'A Horrible Way to Die' cuts its way to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27.3 mbps and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 mbps.

Director Adam Wingard needs to learn restraint. He tried so hard to be stylistic, it was to the determent to the feel of the film, not just the look. The image goes from highly detailed to a gritty and grainy 35mm look, which is not a bad thing. Combining that with moving cameras, out of focus shots and weird angles makes 'A Horrible Way to Die' a hard film to watch. Colors are drab, blacks do crush and I noticed a few occasions where banding was evident. Anchor Bay did its part, as the issues with the video portion were production decisions, not a fault of the transfer. This is not to say it's all bad as there are times it does look very nice, and there is even a bit of that 3D depth the best transfers can conjure up. 'A Horrible Way to Die' will never be considered a looker, but it is still a worthy Blu-ray. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD works quite well-especially for a movie that got most of its sound directly off the cameras microphone. The strong point of the track is the score, though repetitive, it does sound quite nice and comes from the left, right and surrounds, filling the sound-stage. The LFE has some moments where it broods super low, filling the room with bass, but the track is generally a talkie. Besides those standouts, it's a very serviceable track with decent dialogue reproduction, thought we do lose a word of two here and there.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary by Director/Editor Adam Wingard and Writer/Producer Simon Barrett

  • (HD) The Making of A Horrible Way to Die

  • (HD) Previews: Bereavement, Super Hybrid

Final Thoughts:

'A Horrible Way to Die' is a genre film that tries to be more and fails. Where it succeeds is when it is being the horror film and not the mish-mash of time line and funky filming. Too bad the latter is developed more than the plot as this good idea ultimately falls flat. The upside is that there is a unique duo (Barrett and Wingard) working with some good ideas and some genuine talent. My recommendation is a rental at best if you are a horror buff, and for all else a pass.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-X3 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Marantz AV7005 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Cinema Grand 5 200 Amplifier
Sony PS3 Slim Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sunfire Cinema Ribbon Trio On-Wall (5.1)
Sunfire True Subwoofer EQ Solitaire 10"
post #2 of 7
I have yet to see a horror film with Melissa George that I didn't like so I'll still give this a try but I had higher hopes.
post #3 of 7
Lee....thanks for the review. I had wondered about this when it first came out.

Sounds like it's worth a rental.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by General Kenobi View Post

I have yet to see a horror film with Melissa George that I didn't like so I'll still give this a try but I had higher hopes.

Too bad she is not in it

Originally Posted by graphicguy View Post

Lee....thanks for the review. I had wondered about this when it first came out.

Sounds like it's worth a rental.

You're welcome! ...It is for genre fans.
post #5 of 7
Just finished watching the trailer.... i think that's the whole film in a nutshell.
post #6 of 7
gee kind of bad timing with that, the picture and title remind me of 9/11
post #7 of 7
Undecided about this one. I do have it in my queue and will keep it there, but will probably move it to the bottom as I have a lot of stuff in my queue right now. Thanks for the review Lee.
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