The ABCs of Death


The ABCs of Death Review

With 26 short segments, it's expected that this horror anthology will be hit and miss. But the experiment is an intriguing one, as the producers gave 26 filmmakers a letter of the alphabet and complete artistic freedom. The result is a mix of clever invention, pointless silliness, head-scratching indulgence and blatant misfires. Oddly, while all of them indeed deal with death, only a couple are actually creepy.

From Nacho Vigalondo's Apocalypse to Yoshihiro Nishimura's Zetsumetsu, these films are packed with black humour and grisly violence. Some are produced to a very high standard, while others look like cheesy school projects. Highlights include the mind-bendingly clever Cycle (by Chile's Ernesto Diaz Espinoza), about a guy caught in a freaky time-loop, and XXL (from France's Xavier Gens), a rather revolting commentary on super-thin models. Other viciously inventive clips include Marcel Sarmiento Dogfight, set in a deranged fight club underworld, Jorge Michel Grau's Psycho-inspired Ingrown and Ben Wheatley's Unearthed, which offers a frenetic new perspective on the vampire genre. All of these add some social relevance to their brief scenes of nastiness.

Most shorts weave comedy into the grisliness, such as the Thai short Nuptials (by Banjong Pisathanakun), which takes an amusingly awful turn. Others are more gimmicky: Exterminate (by Angela Bettis) is a witty attempt to kill a spider, while the very brief Miscarriage (by Ti West) ends on a particularly yucky gag. And some are just wrong in every way: Libido (by Indonesia's Timo Tjahjanto) is the most repulsive game show you've ever seen; Hydro-Electric Diffusion (by Norway's Thomas Cappelen Malling) features a Nazi cat tormenting an Allied dog; and Fart (by Japan's Noburu Iguchi) is an indescribably outrageous tale of apocalyptic survival.

Recurring themes include point-of-view shots, excessive gore and, ahem, toilets. And there are also two American shorts that comment on the process of making the films themselves. Several clips use animation (two are completely animated), and while most of them have memorable moments, quite a few are just too slight and random to stick in the mind. But what makes this collection worth a look is the glimpse it gives of rising-star global filmmakers who know how to freak us out in ways we can never expect. And after watching this, I want to see features from a few of them.

Rich Cline

The ABCs of Death

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th April 2013

Box Office USA: $21.7k

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: Magnet Releasing, Drafthouse Films

Reviews 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 42

IMDB: 4.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Jason Eisener, , Xavier Gens, Jorge Michel Grau, Srdjan Spasojevic

Producer: Ant Timpson, Tim League

Starring: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Frau Scheisse (voice), Erik Aude as Fighter, Iván González as Bobo, as Lainey, Peter Pedrero as Hooded Man, Lee Hardcastle as Dad, Lucy Clements as Lulu, Darenzia as Roxanne, Arisa Nakamura as Yoshie, Chems Dahmani as A Bad Guy, Takashi Nishina as Executioner, Hiroko Yashiki as Female Detective, Demo Tanaka as Salaryman 4, Fraser Corbett as Nezbit, Miguel Insua as Man, Je$$ica as Rice Woman, Arata Yamanaka as Government Spokesman, Eva Llorach as Woman, Greg De Cuir as Male Nurse, Seminosuke Murasugi as Dr. Strangeluv, Hozake Yamada as High School Girl A, Xavier Magot as Le tueur, Yoshio Komatsu as Man Shot in Head 1, Manon Beuchot as La femme, Joshua Diolosa as Match's Buddy, Honoka Murakami as High School Girl B, Kurumi Ochiai as Sazae-san, Sadashi Matsubayashi as Man Shot in Head 2, Katsuyuki Miyake as Salaryman 3, Tomomi Sugai as High School Girl C, Atsushi Hiroki as Man Shot in Head 3, Match as Mastectomy, Kim Richardson as Mum