“The ABC’s of Death” (2012) Review

the_abcs_of_death_review

25 directors from 15 countries were each given a letter of the English alphabet, asked to think of a word begging with that letter, and asked to make a short film featuring a death centered around that word. One letter (T) was the basis of a competition open to all film-makers, with the instalment been chosen by public vote.

A horror anthology with 26 instalments probably wasn’t the smartest thing to decide to review (here at The Cinphilliacs we have free reign); each ‘story’ is on average less than 4 minuets long, so there’s not much I can say about each one without giving out spoilers.

I can’t even give you a rundown of the titles of the 26 shorts because, in a stroke of borderline genius, the title of each segment comes at it’s conclusion. With the segments running in alphabetical order, there’s a lot of fun to be had with many of the segments trying to guess the word.

Personally I found that a few too many segments relied on poop or fart jokes, and there was clearly no communication between segment writers/directors; two entirely separate instalments break the fourth wall, and feature the filmmakers trying to work out what to do with their letter (the first of the two, Q, is the better one for my money). The vast¬†majority of the segments are either subtitled, or wordless, which may be a hurdle for some viewers, and many of the segments are basically nonsensical, either because they are under-developed due to time restraints, or have used surrealism as a cop-out; that said, with any anthology movie there will always be misses as well as hits, but the joy of this movie is that if you don’t like the current segment, they’ll be another one along very soon. Some of the segments are outright silly, others almost too dark, and just about every horror sub-genre is covered, so there’s bound to be something here for everyone.

One of the stars of the show was V, which was the only segment to look like a ‘real’ movie, and indeed could easily be fleshed out into a feature; sadly it’s brief runtime required a rushed ending, but it was never the less impressive how much Writer / Director Kaare Andrews fit into his brief time slot; also Lee Hardcastle’s claymation segment, despite being one of the toilet-centric segments, and a silly one at that, was one of the few to attempt (and actually succeed at) a real 3-act structure, compleat with foreshadowing (You may know Hardcastle from YouTube, where he recreates classic horror movies in plasticine).

All in all I’d call the movie a success and look forward to its upcoming sequel and spin-off (ABCs of Death part 2 had M as it’s contest slot, with spinoff ABCs of Death 1.5 being the 26 finalists from that competition) and I hope to see some bigger names involved in the future.

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