Film Review: The ABCs of Death 2

on October 31, 2014, 12:00am
Rodney Ascher
Tristan Risk, Martina García, Béatrice Dalle, Laurence R. Harvey
Release Year
Not Rated

The ABCs of Death 2 is a rollicking short horror film anthology that feels like a festival. Sometimes it’s gruesomely goofy, even great. At other points this alphabet’s grotesque, or just plain gauche. Guh. The gimmick’s the same as in the first installment: International directors are each given a letter of the alphabet and asked to interpret death based on their letter using shoestring budgets. Since certain parts are greater than the sum of the whole collage, what the hell, let’s review every letter and every short film. It’s the holiday season.

Here’s a brief note on each segment, with letter grades, obviously.

A is for Amateur – Rodney Katz

Assassination goes bad, and the audience laughs. B-

B is for Badger – Julian Barratt

Prick alpha male TV show host gets what he deserves from a family of nasty, likely radioactive badgers. A-

C is for Capital Punishment – Julian Gilbey

The beheading of an innocent Brit, featuring the unpleasant depiction of someone’s head being chopped into then messily removed. Preachy, obvious, and violent. F

D is for Deloused – Robert Morgan

A very unpleasant, Kafka-esque stop motion fever dream full of bug anuses and other gross things. C

E is for Equilibrium – Alejandro Brugues

Sexist island comedy. Bros before hoes. Pass. D+

F is for Falling – Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Female Israeli soldier gets stranded in a tree after a jump and is found by a young Palestinian boy. Egads, the emotions in this one. B+

G is for Grandad – Jim Hosking

…I kinda found this funny. Get ready for British twits, long-harbored resentments, and uncomfortable nudity! B+

H is for Head Game – Bill Plympton

Calm down, Bill. This cartoon about grotesque kissing was probably a neat album cover concept. D

I is for Invincible – Erik Matti

Spastic exorcism comedy about a family shamelessly looking for their inheritance. Just a series of loud noises and effects. D+

J is for Jesus – Dennison Ramlho

A flashy, cheap, laughably overwrought exorcism meant as absolution for homosexuality. D+

K is for Knell – Kristina Buozyte and Bruno

Poetic, elegiac take on a poisonous, murder-inducing, mysterious black liquid. This is the most attractive and elegant contribution to the anthology. A-

L is for Legacy – Lancelot Imasuen

Recorded on old tape, this features bad make-up and nonsensical shouting. So I guess it’s campy? C

M is for Mastification – Robert Boocheck

Hilariously creepy take on modern drugs; works well into its abrupt punchline. B+

N is for Nexus – Larry Fessenden

The Last Winter’s promising helmer pieces together an over-blown and awfully sad relationship. An editing exercise more than a short. C+

O is for Ochlocracy – Hajime Ohata

One of those shorts where the idea totally outweighs the execution. Zombies go to court. Ha. B-

P is for P-P-P-P SCARY – Todd Rohal

Like a stupid Guy Maddin short, this bumbling escaped convict shocker is guilty of misusing both Looney Tunes and The Three Stooges. C-

Q is for Questionnaire – Rodney Ascher

Last year’s breakout director Ascher (Room 237) disturbingly cross-cuts a street questionnaire with primal brain surgery. A gross thinker. B+

R is for Roulette – Marven Kren

Some stylish demons being held at bay? Next, please. C-

S is for Split – Juan Martinez Moreno

Crackerjack split-screen usage as a helpless British man stays on the line with his wife during a brutal, unforgiving home invasion. The twist is actually shocking, and it’s directed with total assurance. A truly upsetting, effective short. A

T is for Torture Porn – Jena and Sylvia Soska

A slithery but potent jab at the porn industry’s propensity to treat women like shit. B

U is for Utopia – Vincenzo Natali

From the director of Splice and Cube and some episodes of Hannibal comes a nicely crafted pastiche of post-Orwellian dystopia. B

V is for Vacation – Jerome Sable

Awful bros get what they deserve in a Facetime short. D-

W is for Wish – Steven Kostanski

Maybe that SNL skit about Chris Pratt playing He-Man after he comes to life was a rip-off of this? You’ll see, but there’s a reason it’s best to have toys, and not live out the fantasies they offer. B

X is for Xylophone – Julien and Alexadnre Bustillo

Think real hard about who you hire to babysit your kids. Like, see if anything, like the ping of a xylophone, could set them off.  This one’s very upsetting. B+

Y is for Youth – Soichi Umezawa

A young girl’s angst and disdain for her parents make for some grody, fun fantasy. C+

Z is for Zygote – Chris Nash

A mother keeps her child in the womb for 13 years. Disturbing, gory, graphic, and somehow actually sweet, it forces a nasty twist, but commits to its nonsensical premise with a neat perspective. B

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