The ABCs of Death (2012)

Directed By: Misc
Written By: Misc
Starring: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal
  Erik Aude
  Kyra Zagorsky
  Iván González
The ABCs of Death

Hoboy. Where do I start? Well conceptually speaking, The ABCs of Death is an anthology movie featuring 26 different directors, each fielding a short film inspired by a word (any word) starting with their given letter of the alphabet. As a concept, this is a great idea; the short film is a wonderful way in order to construct a concise yet atmospheric horror movie, and I fully endorse any effort to promote the form. In practice? Not so much.

Now I don’t know what the vetting process was to decide which directors were involved with The ABCs of Death, but I think whoever chose the 26 directors needs to go sit in a corner and seriously think about what they’ve done. By and large, setting aside a few gems, the films are rather atrocious.

This is, to a certain extent, expected; by their very definition, multiple-director anthology movies are a mixed bag – some will shine, some will fester…especially so given the complete and utter creative freedom granted to each director. But I can’t help but think that, with a little more discernment, the odds could be stacked a little more in the former’s favour than is the reality.

Sadly, that isn’t the case in The ABCs of Death, which is a shame considering the potential it had. What could have been a celebration of the magic of the short seemed to turn into, inherently and largely, a pissing contest over who could create the most vapidly depraved film. It’s no wonder we horror fans get a bad reputation when these sort of films are being produced, that have all but no artistic merit and exist only to shock. Even the occasional film that seems like it have something interesting to say ends up with a kitten being crushed underfoot as a punchline (oh yeah, spoilers). Their only saving grace is that at least each film is a short so you don’t need to wait for long for them to end.

Fortunately, it isn’t all bad news. Some of the segments manage to just claw their way out of the overall mire; Ben Wheatley’s U is for Unearthed is a particular highlight, a rather cleverly filmed first-person vampire movie, along with Jake West’s S is for Speed and claymation newcomer Lee Hardcastle’s T is for Toilet. Alas, however, you can’t help but feel that even the handful of films that are genuinely enjoyable have been tainted by the swamp of the rest of the film.

I’m not really sure what else there is to say about this film. The ABCs of Death isn’t an enjoyable film, not by a long stretch; nor does it for the most part seem to have anything particularly interesting to say. Quite frankly you’re better not wasting two hours of your life. You’ll certainly feel better for not having done so.

Rating: ★★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆

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