You’re not likely to find a more out-there horror film this year than The ABCs of Death, an anthology that revels in trying to shock, disgust and entertain you in equal measure.
The idea for it is simple: 26 different directors were assigned to a letter of the alphabet, told to pick a word beginning with that letter and make a $5000 budget short film with no content restrictions except that it has to relate to death in some way.
It’s an interesting idea and what results is a veritable smorgasbord of horror choice, varying in lengths, craziness and, predictably, quality. As is the case with pretty much all of these portmanteau films, it’s hit or miss throughout. Some work really well, some not so much, some are masterful while others are downright terrible. But what it can’t be accused of being is boring or unimaginative as everything including the kitchen sink is thrown at you throughout its runtime, in a diversity of styles ranging from blood-soaked live-action to CGI and even claymation.
It’s the cinematic equivalent of a one-liner comedian wherein if you don’t find one of the chapters particularly effective then chances are the next one will be more to your tastes. You have the huge advantage of variety here, something for every horror fan, so whether you like buckets of gore, stylish violence, tongue-in-cheek humour or just plain bizarre and disturbing imagery then this has you covered.
The film has its clear standouts including the letter D by Marcel Sarmiento (who made the disturbing Deadgirl), the letter X by Xavier Gens (Frontiers, Hitman) and the letter T by Lee Hardcastle. The boring and pointless letter G by Andrew Traucki is easily the worst of the lot while Ti West’s letter M and Timo Tjahjanto’s letter L stand out for being offensive and even deplorable. It’s best if you don’t know what the letters stand for before going in as part of the fun is the reveal after each short.
It’s nice to see a collaborative project like this – however much it may miss the mark at times – between a plethora of talented and diverse directors who all, in one way or another, love the genre. I’m not sure what this is going to do for anyone not particularly into horror but in the end it’s not made for them. This is a real treat for horror fans.