Thursday, 9 October 2014
ABCs of Death 2
ABCs of Death 2
Various Directors // 2014 // 125 mins
Last year's The ABCs of Death was an interesting film in that it's premise held a great deal of potential, but a lack of quality control resulted in an anthology of 26 short films where only two or three were actually worth sitting through the two hour + runtime for. While there was no reason why a sequel couldn't be more successful, the prospect of yet another missed opportunity seemed too great. Fortunately ABCs of Death 2 does boast a slightly higher number of decent shorts, but not only is there still a larger number of bad ones, many of them surpass the worst of the first film (with the exception of F is for Fart of course).
The concept is simple; 26 directors are each assigned a letter of the alphabet, they then have complete creative freedom over the creation of a short film that centres around death, the only condition being that the cause of death must begin with the letter they have been given. The problem is that by giving the directors complete creative freedom any chance of consistency in both quality and tone is lost and so, much like the first film, ABCs of Death 2 markets itself as a horror anthology despite the fact that the greater percentage of it's segments are played for laughs rather than scares.
So, let's start with the good...
The anthology has a few high points which are fortunately scattered quite evenly throughout the film. The first animated effort D is for Deloused is a disturbing, surrealist piece that delivers liberal helpings off grossness but features some especially great claymation and character design that will not be easily forgotten. K is for Knell boats what is probably the films most unnerving and interesting sequence as a young woman watches as the inhabitants of the tower block across from hers begin violently murdering one another and then simultaneously turn their attentions to her. What follows doesn't quite match the impact of this first eery sequence but it is certainly one of the better offerings.
A man on the phone to his wife listens in horror as their home is invaded and his wife attacked in S is for Split, which makes good use of the split screen technique and provides off-screen horror that is miles more affecting than almost every other segments on-screen blood-shedding. The segment that surely everyone expected to see in the first film finally makes its appearance here, X is for Xylophone reunites the directors of Inside with actress Beatrice Dalle and delivers both gore and black humour, without going too far with either element. The film concludes with Z is for Zygote, perhaps the most graphic film of the lot as a pregnant wife waits years and years for the return of her husband so that she can give birth to the child growing inside of her. With excessive but relevant gore and sound design that will get under your skin, it is a strong conclusion to the anthology.
Less successful are the likes of dull opener A is for Amateur, light hearted but out of place E is for Equilibrium, the very literal representation of a popular sub-genre in T is for Torture Porn and skype catch-up gone wrong V is for Vacation, because of course there had to be a handheld camera segment. The worst entries come in the form of G is for Grandad; a painfully unfunny and badly acted tale about an arrogant young man who's grandfather grows to resent him, and Y is for Youth; in which a teenage girl fantasises about her parents being attacked by giant, carnivorous hamburgers, choking on guitars and handling super-sized penises. At the bottom of the barrel is P is for P-P-P-P-Scary, an abysmal attempt at being funny that falls short of achieving any kind of actual humour. That creator Todd Rohal disregarded the entire purpose of the project by not even attempting to utilise the letter the was given could have possibly been forgiven if he had delivered a quality short, but P is for P-P-P-P-Scary is eye-rollingly bad, in this particular case P is for Pathetic.
An anthology film is only as good as it's weakest segment, and disappointingly ABCs of Death 2 has many. Even after two films that have fallen short of expectations, there is still potential in the gimmick, but with so many uninspired directors at the helm that potential will never be tapped into. While there are a small number of good shorts in amongst this collection, the remaining segments are too many and too terrible to make it seem worth awarding the film two hours of your time.