The ABC’s of Death offers audiences twenty-six different ways to die. The film is an anthology where 27 different directors produced 26 different chapters each corresponding to a letter of the alphabet. Given free rein, the only rule they had to apply was corresponding their short film to their assigned letter which would represent the manner of death that is portrayed on screen.
The producers then set out to find the best, most eclectic group of directors willing to participate in this ambitious project. Their efforts resulted in names such as Ti West (House of the Devil), Jason Eisner (Hobo With a Shotgun), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Machine Girl) and Adam Wingard (V/H/S) each attaching themselves to a specific letter in which to thrill, repulse and amuse the audience.
The film shorts go in the order of the alphabet (A,B,C..etc) with director Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes) first out of the gate with his A-themed short titled Apocalypse. Next up was the B-themed short, Bigfoot followed by the letter D’s entry titled Dogfight. I think you get the picture from here.
The shorts all range in running time, but none is more than a few minutes (all 26 letters of the alphabet are completed within a 123 minute span) and without restriction of studio interference, the directors brought their style of horror, humor and hubris to the platform. The shorts include multiple languages and showcase even animation and claymation.
As with any anthology, there are highs and lows. We loved ‘A is for Apocalypse’, ‘D is for Dogfight’, ‘F is for Fart’, ‘T is for Toilet’ and ‘Y is for Youngbuck’. Letters ‘V’ and ‘K’ were also slickly produced on their $5,000 budgets and don’t even get us started on ‘Z’ that had gigantic penises with swords and a whole bunch of other visuals that had us exiting the theatre just a tad disturbed.
‘X is for XXL’ was possibly the entry with the most blood spewing and ‘L is for Libido’ was just plain weird. The most disappointing entry was easily Ti West’s ‘M is for Miscarriage’. It was neither interesting nor involving and considering he may be the most commercial name who contributed to the effort, it has to be considered the biggest misfire. Adam Wingard got stuck with the difficult letter ‘Q’ and pulled off a humorous entry that was a welcomed diversion from the otherwise violent entries that preceded it.
As I have long complained in many of my reviews that films are often over long and stretched beyond their paper think storylines for the purposes of achieving the standard 90-minute running time range, The ABC’s of Death was a welcomed treat. We were able to sit back and enjoy the films without a bunch of subplots or unnecessary character development clogging up my time investment. So if you didn’t like ‘K is for Klutz’ then wait through the five minutes and give ‘L is for Libido’ a chance.
However, the change of pace might not be for all audiences. We found our screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival to be filled with an audience that began to sway in energy and excitement as we plodded through the later letters of the English alphabet.
But we were not one of the distracted. We were invested through all 26 entries and it was fun to watch a short and try and determine what the letter designation would represent in the title card that comes only after the film.
Outrageous, audacious and even courageous, The ABC’s of Death will be considered an experiment that all horror film fans should experience. It is sure to shock, entertain and provide plenty of after screening conversation over which entries you thought were better than others or what worked or failed.