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Mar 06

The ABCs of Death

abcsofdeathGenre: Horror
Year: 2012
Country: Various

Directors: Various
Starring: Various

 

26 Directors, 26 Ways to Die

 

$5,000 dollars, a couple of minutes and a letter of death. That’s the task 26 directors accepted to do back in 2011 and the result of it all is The ABCs of Death. The film runs 123 minutes (ABC, 123, get it?) and while I have it listed as horror, it really goes all over the place and a big bunch of the shorts are filled with comedy and wacky weirdness.

Going through 26 short stories at once can be exhausting, but thankfully most of these are easy to watch or even lazy at times, so it doesn’t become a tiresome two hour long experience. I was however a bit disappointed that even though all the segments do have a death in them, few really explores the concept of death and I had hopes that this might be a collection of some very dark pieces of film. As expected the quality is varied here, with a few highlights but a higher amount of crappy ones than what I was expecting.

Here is a quick rundown of each “letter” without much mention on the story since it would be too easy to spoil a short that only runs for a few minutes. I did not use a lot of time on each, since frankly you don’t get a lot of time to think about each short while watching the entire thing either.

A is for Apocalypse by Nacho Vigalondo

This starts off the show and when the “A is for Apocalypse” screen pops up you are left wondering if this was the intro or if it actually had ended already. It’s simple and gory but forgettable. 3.5/10

B is for Bigfoot by Adrian Garcia Bogliano

It’s perhaps the most fairy tale inspired by all these films. I liked this one, it’s simple and cliché horror, but it is executed well enough for me to enjoy it. 6/10

C is for Cycle by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

It has an interesting concept, but I don’t think it was told very well. It would perhaps fit better in a longer segment instead since it does have an Outer Limits vibe to it. 4/10

D is for Dogfight by Marcel Sarmiento

The first really good one on this film. Highly stylish, surreal, original idea and with a twist that both change the story and the emotions of the viewer. One of, if not the best segment on this entire movie. 8.5/10

E is for Exterminate by Angela Bettis

Another favorite of mine. I know of Bettis from the Masters of Horror episode Sick Girl and from the May movie and this short could fit in between those two. It’s a creepy concept that will make you look close around you for bugs, but it is also done in quirky comedic style that makes it quite funny. The only downside is some very poor acting by the main lead. 7.5/10

F is for Fart by Noboru Iguchi

You know that you are in for some silliness when you see a title like that and Iguchi doesn’t disappoint in that regard. I have terrible humour so I must admit that it did amuse me a little, but I do know that most people will hate this stuff. 5/10

G is for Gravity by Andrew Traucki

Too simple and lacks creativity. To fully get it you have to be focused right at the start, but it still is not any good in my book. 2/10

H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion by Thomas Malling

The Norwegian entry! It’s very cartoonishly goofy and a technically well done segment. The absurdity of it all makes it a little hard to know how to place the thing, but it was enjoyable and certainly unique. 6.5/10

I is for Ingrown by Jorge Michel Grau

This is one of few segments that goes for very disturbing imagery, but it does fail to shock as much as it is trying to do. It’s also a very forgettable segment and the only one I had to revisit since I had forgotten all about it while writing this, a bad sign in itself. 3/10

J is for Jidai-Geki by Yudai Yamaguchi

Another Japanese entry that tries to be funny. It starts out decent, but then just fails with the ending. It makes me wonder why the Japanese didn’t try to do anything scary on this film, this is the country that has given us countless of scary dark haired girls over the last fifteen years. 4/10

K is for Klutz by Anders Morgenthaler

This is a funny little animated story from Denmark. It plays like a newspaper cartoon stripe, although with a subject matter that you wouldn’t see in a daily newspaper. It’s one of the many segments that revolve around toilet humour, although there is a bit more to this one than the others. I thought it was well made and funny. 6.5/10

L is for Libido by Timo Tjahjanto

Wow, talk about mixing up some shocking and unique elements here. It mixes the absurdity of a Japanese entry, but removes all humour from it creating something very disturbing and interesting. Highly offensive and surely to put some people off, but it doesn’t hurt to have something like that in this collection and I liked it. It also leaves med excited that Tjahjanto is making a segment for the upcoming S-VHS aswell. 7/10

M is for Miscarriage by Ti West

$5,000 bucks they paid Ti West and they ended up with this very quick and meaningless shot? They were ripped off. Considering how poor his segment on VHS was aswell, I think West should still to full length movies cause this is not working for him. 1/10

N is for Nuptials by Banjong Pisanthanakun

A black comedy from Thailand and I found it to be very funny. It’s very simple, light, clever and short, but works for me 6/10

O is for Orgasm by Bruno Forzani, Helene Cattet

Perhaps the segment I was most excited about since the duo showed some high potential with their film Amer. This has crazy and colorful style, as to be expected, but I don’t think it worked that well here. It’s very artsy and I’m sure the average horror fan would think it’s rubbish (if they haven’t pressed stop on this anthology by this point). It leaves me hoping that their next work will be something with a more traditional storyline to it instead of just focusing on style and mood. 5/10.

P is for Pressure by Simon Rumley

This is bound to disturb a lot of people, I however found it to feel like the longest of all stories and it became predictable by the time it got near to the end. I understand what Rumley was trying to do, I just didn’t care much for it or the style he used to narrate this. 3/10

Q is for Quack by Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett

This one stands out in that it takes place outside of the film, dealing with the tough assignment of filling the letter Q. It is a nice break, a little funny but with a very predictable ending. 5/10

R is for Removed by Srdjan Spasojevic

Spasojevic was behind A Serbian Film, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it is filled with nasty stuff. I took it as being about film, but didn’t quite catch it all and think it could have used some more scenes to flesh it more out. 4.5/10

S is for Speed by Jake West

Very fast paced, clever and kind of cool. West used every second he had available for this and the effort does show. Cool stuff. 6/10

T is for Toilet by Lee Hardcastle

This is an interesting letter. The producers held an online contest where fans and amateur filmmakers could send in their work and the winner was Lee Hardcastle with his claymation toilet monster story. The claymation is fun and the segment does work, even outshines some of the competition. 6/10

U is for Unearthed by Ben Wheatley

This was interesting. A good example of something that works fine in a few minutes, but would be too much for an entire full length film. It’s also one of very few that are pure horror and not comedy or just shocking material. I thought it was well made, new and good. 6.5/10

V is for Vagitus by Kaare Andrews

He did this on a 5,000 dollar budget? How in the hell did he manage to do that? It’s set in a science fiction surroundings with plenty of effects and whatnot, very impressive in the stylish level. I didn’t fully grasp the story though, but it still did impress me to see how much he could do on so little. 6/10

W is for WTF by Jon Schnepp

Taking the title WTF to the max, Schnepp’s segment is surely to either be loved or hated with me being closer to the latter. It’s a few minutes of pure insanity where only few things are fun, including the opening, the zombie clowns and a reference to the Insane Clown Posse which I am sure most will not get. 4/10

X is for XXL by Xavier Gens

A gory little thing with a very open message, but it didn’t grab me or give me very much. Gens went for a shocking ending and while I think this might easily end up being one of the most loved entries, I didn’t care that much for it. 5.5/10

Y is for Youngbuck by Jason Eisener

This plays out like some 90’s techno music video, only it is good. I never saw Eisener’s Hobo With A Shotgun, but after seeing this impressive piece I gotta reconsider doing just that. It’s creepy, sad, disturbing, shocking and even funny. 7/10

Z is for Zetsumetsu by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Another piece of wacky weirdness from Japan. I have no idea what the hell the insanity is supposed to mean, but my bad humour suits this for some reason. It’s insane, sexual, gross… but also very, very silly. 5.5/10

And that’s The ABCs of Death. Calculating together the individual scores and I end on a little over 5/10, which is accurate for what I thought of the entire experience. I hope that if the rumoured sequel happens that the filmmakers involved will deliver more serious and dark material instead of toilet humour. I hope they do another one since I think the concept is very good… just keep Ti West away from it.

Don’t go watching The ABCs of Death and expect a straight horror anthology, cause that is not what this is. Each segment deals with death, but in very different ways and it is usually not the act of dying that is the main focus on each story. It should be interesting to watch for people who enjoy strange short films and are always on the lookout for new talented filmmakers.

 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 

1 comment

  1. Cole

    Can’t wait to see you review The ABCs of Death 2!

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