THE ABC'S OF DEATH (REVIEW)
Dir. Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard, Ben Wheatley, Ti West, Jen and Sylvia Soska, Xavier Gens + MORE
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
'tis the season of shorts. With the success of V/H/S. FEAR(S) OF THE DARK and ‘TRICK R TREAT, as well as classic anthologies such as TALES OF THE CRYPT, CREEPSHOW and THREE EXTREMES, it’s no surprise that this is a trend that will be around for a while.
An interesting concept. 26 letters of the alphabet. 26 films. 26 directors. At least 50 deaths. THE ABC'S OF DEATH dares to cross boundaries and scenes of shock horror that will scare you for life. Within this series of shorts, each director was given $5,000 and free roam on the letter of their decision and nothing illustrates more than the brilliant short by Adam Wingard (V/H/S), ‘Q is for Quack’.
It’s hard to review a film that splits at so many angles, has so many wafer thin plots and more ups and downs than a funfair ride and as attractive as this film reels you in, you soon feel like you’ve had the full days outing by the time you’ve seen the letter M.
Opening up with a rather slapstick attack on a bed bound man and his hand gorily sliced in two, the tone is set. What will follow is mostly tongue in cheek and blood thirsty. “26 directors. 26 ways to die.”
The problem with ‘ABCS…’ is that there is too much diversity and although the fresh ideas come strolling in. They just feel like they were wrapped up in 10 minutes by a college student. Nothing covers this more than Ti Wests ‘M is for Miscarriage’. A quick glimpse into something that is on paper quite shocking but as soon as you’ve clicked what’s going on, it’s over.
There are more downs than ups but by the time you get to the ups, most of the 2 hour running time is over.
Xavier Gens ‘XXL’ is as brilliantly downbeat as you’d expect from the director of ‘The Divide’ and ‘Frontier(s)’ as well as Ben Wheatley’s ‘Unearthed’, Lee Hardcastle’s ‘Toilet’ and ‘Z is … something Japanese’ is as crazy and bonkers as you’d expect from the director of TOKYO GORE POLICE.
'ABCS…' has too much going on and there is definitely something for everyone in this bundle of joy wrapped up in 15 shorts of sheer boredom. We have to mention the ‘L is for Libido’ needs a “sick as fuck” warning on it and we found it way too disturbing a piece to include in a compilation of this kind. Paedophilia is for those who can watch through their eyes and we personally don’t see the justification or glorification of this and in an anthology that includes zombie clowns, Nazis fighting with dildo’s and fart jokes. Timo Tjahjanto just seems to have gone too far.
Some of the collection is just plain “out there”, one short is all about farts (guess which letter that comes under) and a killer poo, yes, you read that right, a killer poo in Anders Mrgenthaler’s ‘K is for Klutz’. While others just try to be too artsy (‘O is for Orgasm’) that they lose their substance over style.
For us, the highlights of the piece were, ‘A is for Apocalypse’, ‘D is for Dogfight’ (Possibly the film which used it’s budget to its best), ‘I is for Ingrown’, ‘N is for Nuptials’ (both charming and funny), ‘Q is for Quack’ (The best piece in our eyes), ‘S is for Speed’, ‘T is for Toilet’, ‘U is for Unearthed’, ‘V is for Vagitate’, ‘W is for WTF?’, ‘X is for XXL’, ‘Y is for Youngbuck’, and the best til last… ‘Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)’. Evidence, all good things come to those who wait. But surely waiting an hour into a film that has so much talent involved makes you question the effort that was put into these shorts.
To call this a horror compilation is also a faux par. For what we can recall there was not one scary moment, some shorts manage to bring fear but for the most part its either balls out hilarious or just plain childish (toilet humour anyone?).
THE ABCS OF DEATH would work much better as a DVD or mini series. An option where you can come back and watch the highlights. But a film that has about 70 minutes of throwaway footage, we wouldn’t recommend the cinema for this one. For concept, the ABCS... is flawless but in its execution, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark.