A Horrible Way to Die is a 2010 horror film directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett (You're Next).
In rural Missouri, serial killer Garrick Turrell (AJ Bowen) escapes from police custody and immediately resumes taking the lives of strangers whilst searching for his ex-girlfriend, Sarah. Meanwhile, having met at group therapy for recovering alcoholics, Sarah (Amy Seimetz) and Kevin (Joe Swanberg) begin to develop a tentative relationship. As the body count builds, Turrell makes his way to Sarah's new location just as she seems to be getting her life in order.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: Sarah meets Kevin in AA.
- Anti-Villain: Turrell liked being in prison where he couldn't hurt anyone, is surprisingly sensible about his relationship with his ex and kills those who thought they were helping him take revenge her.
- Affably Evil: Garrick is in the opening to one of his victims right before he kills her. He also expresses puzzlement at why he should be mad at Sarah for alerting the cops.
- Asshole Victim: Rusty, Reed and Kevin are all killed by Garrick, who himself receives a fatal wound.
- Evil All Along: Rusty, Reed and Kevin.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Sarah has difficulty admitting just what the deal was in her last relationship. She's in witness protection and isn't supposed to tell anyone.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Garrick is NOT happy about anything his fans have done to Sarah.
- Has a Type: Turrell almost seems compelled to go after women who resemble a prior victim, although this includes both blondes and brunettes.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Turrell liked being in prison where he couldn't hurt anyone, in parallel with Sarah wanting to stop drinking but noting how difficult that is when alcohol is around.
- It's All My Fault: Surprisingly enough Turrell takes this attitude toward being arrested rather than blaming Sarah. Invoked but averted with Sarah who comes close to blaming her drinking.
- Karmic Death: One of the AA members says of two men killed outside a bar that nothing good comes from drinking. Also, Rusty, Reed, and Kevin get killed by the very serial killer they spent so much time admiring.
- Monster Fangirl: Turrell is reported as receiving lots of fan mail and even marriage proposals in prison. The guys who tell him where Sarah is incite his escape, but he's not happy about that at all.
- Nonindicative Name: There are multiple deaths, but they aren't especially horrible as far as murders go.
- Off the Wagon: Surprisingly downplayed and never acknowledged again after it happens.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Turrell does not appreciate his fans sending him letters telling him where Sarah is, or one of them seducing her so she could be trapped in a cabin to be killed.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Sarah thinks she's left a serial killer story for a romantic/addiction drama, but that's a ruse on Kevin's part. He and his friends think Turrell is in a sequel to his serial killer story, but Turrell actually still loves Sarah and doesn't hold anything against her.