A Horrible Way to Die

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A Horrible Way to Die
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam Wingard
Written bySimon Barrett
Produced by
  • Travis Stevens
  • Simon Barrett
  • Kim Sherman
  • Chris Hilleke
  • Mark Shelhorse
Edited byAdam Wingard
Music byJasper Justice Leigh
Two Squirrels/Snowfort Pictures
Distributed byAnchor Bay Films
Celluloid Nightmares[1]
Release date
  • September 14, 2010 (2010-09-14) (TIFF)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Horrible Way to Die is a 2010 American horror film directed and edited by Adam Wingard, written by co-producer Simon Barrett, and starring A. J. Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg, Brandon Carroll, and Lane Hughes. The story follows an escaped serial killer as he chases down his recovering alcoholic ex-girlfriend who is responsible for his incarceration. The film had its world premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival Vanguard program where it was picked up for distribution by Anchor Bay Entertainment.[1] It also played at Fantastic Fest[2] where it received three major awards: Best Screenplay for Simon Barrett, Best Actor for A. J. Bowen and Best Actress for Amy Seimetz.[3]


In rural Missouri, notorious serial killer Garrick Turrell (A. J. Bowen) escapes from police custody. He begins travelling towards his ex-girlfriend, Sarah, who is responsible for his arrest. Along the way, he murders several strangers and appears at times remorseful for the murders. Meanwhile, having met at group therapy for recovering alcoholics, Sarah (Amy Seimetz) and Kevin (Joe Swanberg) begin to develop a relationship and ultimately sleep together.

Kevin leads Sarah to a cabin in the woods, where she discovers that he and two other men they meet there are serial killer fans. The trio plan to kill Sarah because she reported their idol, Turrell, to the police when she discovered he was a killer. They hang Sarah upside down and begin to torture her, when Turrell arrives at the cabin. It is revealed that one of the trio has been sending Turrell coded messages in prison, detailing Sarah's location and their plans to kill her.

Turrell explains to the trio that he bears no ill will towards Sarah, because he misled her about his true nature. He also confesses that he enjoyed prison because it was extremely difficult to hurt people there, and although he feels compelled to kill, he also regrets it afterward. He only broke out of prison because he realized they planned to kill Sarah and wanted to stop them. Turrell attacks and kills the three men, who fatally wound him in the struggle. Dying, Turrell frees Sarah, who flees the cabin.


  • A. J. Bowen as Garrick Turrell
  • Amy Seimetz as Sarah
  • Joe Swanberg as Kevin
  • Brandon Carroll as Rusty
  • Lane Hughes as Reed
  • Holly Voges as Carla
  • Kelsey Munger as Elisabeth
  • Michael Anthony Miller as Steven
  • Ed Hanson as Mr. Harper
  • Frank Stack as Elderly Man
  • Whitney Moore as Daphne
  • Gabriel Wallace as Werner
  • Kirstin Denise Racicot as Chelsea
  • Travis Stevens as Craig
  • Cathe Frank as Maddy
  • Jen Huemmer as Dark-haired woman
  • Melissa Boatright as Jessie
  • Simon Barrett as Olsen


Barrett estimated the budget at $75,000.[4]


A Horrible Way to Die debuted on 14 September 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival and opened in other film festivals on the dates given below.

Region Release date Festival
Canada September 14, 2010 Toronto International Film Festival
United States September 26, 2010 Fantastic Fest[2]
Spain October 11, 2010 Sitges Film Festival[5][6]
United States October 15, 2010 Hawaii International Film Festival
United States October 16, 2010 Philadelphia Film Festival
United States November 6, 2010 Denver International Film Festival[7][8]
Sweden November 12, 2010 Stockholm International Film Festival[9]
United Kingdom November 14, 2010 Leeds International Film Festival[10]
Canada April 15, 2011 Calgary Underground Film Festival[11]

The film has been shown as a special Valentine's Day screening at the independent Showroom cinema in Sheffield, UK.[12]

Home release[edit]

A Horrible Way to Die was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United States on September 6, 2011. Bonus materials include audio commentary with director/editor Adam Wingard and writer/producer Simon Barrett and a Behind The Scenes of A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE featurette.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

The review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports a score of 60%, with an average rating of 6.4 out of 10, based on 10 reviews from critics.[14] On Metacritic the film received "Mixed or average reviews", with an overall weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on five critics.[15] Dennis Harvey of Variety wrote that the film is "strongly reminiscent of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" but lacks that film's impact.[16] Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called it "a restrained, ripely atmospheric thriller that relies more on mood than on special effects".[17]


  1. ^ a b Fleming, Mike (2010-09-17). "Toronto: Anchor Bay Deal For Thiller 'Horrible Way To Die'". Deadline Hollywood.com. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  2. ^ a b "Fantastic Fest 2010 : A Horrible Way to Die". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  3. ^ Metz, Daniel (2010-09-27). "Fantastic Fest 2010 Awards Announced!". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  4. ^ Miska, Brad (2009-01-22). "Is 'Red Sands' Really a Sequel to 'Dead Birds'? What's Next?!". Bloody Disgusting.
  5. ^ "Noves Visions, the most indie and daring section at Sitges 2010". Private Foundation Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  6. ^ "Sitges Film Festival » A Horrible Way to Die". Private Foundation Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  7. ^ "The Watching Hour At The 33rd Starz Denver Film Festival". Denver Film Society. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  8. ^ "Films: A Horrible Way To Die". Denver Film Society. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  9. ^ "Festival program 2010". Stockholm International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  10. ^ "A Horrible Way to Die – Leeds International Film Festival". Leeds International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  11. ^ "A Horrible Way to Die USA, 2010" ALberta Premiere". Calgary Underground Film Festival. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
  12. ^ "A Horrible Way to Die - Showroom & Workstation". Showroomworkstation.org.uk. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
  13. ^ "Anchorbay Entertainment : A Horrible Way to Die". Anchorbay Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  14. ^ "A Horrible Way to Die (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  15. ^ "A Horrible Way to Die". Metacritic. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  16. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2010-09-17). "Review: 'A Horrible Way to Die'". Variety. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  17. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (2011-08-11). "The Serial-Killer Story Takes a New Twist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-08-14.

External links[edit]