“The ABCs of Death” Review: F is for Failure

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“The ABCs of Death” Review: F is for Failure

By Wesley Emblidge

"D is for Dogfight"

“D is for Dogfight”

26 different directors were chosen to work on “The ABCs of Death,” a new kind of experiential project that is “Based on a nightmare by Ant Thompson.” Each director was given a letter from the alphabet to title their short film with, so for the first segment of the anthology, Nacho Vigalondo (the incredible “Timecrimes” and the mediocre “Extraterrestrial”) was assigned “A” and so made the short “A is for Apocalypse.” Directors were given complete creative freedom, with the only rule being they make “a short tale of death that related to their chosen word.” This could have been a really cool, fun project with a lot of fun ideas and collaboration. Unfortunately, it falls into the pit most anthology films fall into: not all the segments are that great. In “The ABCs of Death,” there are 26 shorts and I’d say maybe 5 of those are actually worth seeing.

Aside from the titles all following the “A is for…” format, the shorts are not remotely related. Some kind of connective tissue would have been cool, but the shorts don’t even maintain a consistent tone. Some shorts are broad comedy and some are truly disturbing horror. Some shorts look like they were shot on a iPhone and others could have been straight out of a professional horror film. It ends up feeling like watching a YouTube playlist of random short films, except you can’t skip any of them.

That’s not to say there aren’t cool ideas in here, some shorts have interesting concepts that don’t pay off, but many feel really lazy and just bore you to tears. “F for Fart” is even dumber and creepier than you’d expect, “O for Orgasm” has cool stylization but literally nothing else to it, while “P for Pressure” is kind of interesting but goes nowhere.

However they’re not all bad. The crude claymation short “T is for Toilet” may be the best of the bunch (and you can even watch it online for free), although Adam Wingard’s (“You’re Next”) meta and funny “Q is for Quack” is also a lot of fun. Ben Wheatley (“Down Terrace,” “Kill List”) does some interesting stuff with the POV “U is for Unearthed,” and “L is for Libido” deserves credit for how insanely far it’s willing to go. There are some other highlights, like “D is for Dogfight” and “N is for Nuptials,” but they’re so spread out in between lazy, boring shorts like “G is for Gravity” that the film isn’t even worth checking out.

The best move with “The ABCs of Death” is maybe get it on Netflix and fast-forward to the best shorts. Maybe the DVD will let you watch them on their own, but as one full film it’s just too uninspired to even bother with.

1.5/5 Stars