26 films. 26 directors. 26 ways to die. So goes the twistedly inventive structure of Magnet Releasing and Drafthouse Film’s newly released genre anthology, THE ABCs OF DEATH. Horror anthologies are seeing something of a resurgence in Hollywood and independent cinema as of late. Once a quite thriving sub-genre on both the silver & small screen in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the segment based tales of terror seemingly vanished (well, the memorable one’s anyway) from prominence. Thanks to recent successes like AMERICAN HORROR STORY, V/H/S, it’s upcoming sequel V/H/S/2, and now THE ABCs OF DEATH, it seems anthology storytelling has returned in full force to frighten, disgust, and entertain one chapter at a time.
And frighten, disgust, and entertain it does.
Spanning the course of two hours, with four minute segments directed by some of the best (and strangest) talent currently in the indie biz, THE ABCs OF DEATH is an ADHD fueled storybook filled with some truly demented, provocative, and disgustingly hilarious bits that have ever graced the screen. With that said, the film does have more than a few missteps, which was bound to occur. ABCs is no doubt incredibly ambitious and wholly unique, most in part because something like this has never been attempted before. Simply put, some filmmakers used their time wiser and created a captivating world that fascinatingly exists in a 240 second world, while others opted for temporary shock value that doesn’t hold a candle to the segments that hit.
Stand out segments include D is for Dogfight from DEADGIRL‘s Marcel Sarmeinto, an expectation flipping stunner who’s imagery and subject knocked me out. It’s a major highpoint of the film, and one of many that stayed with me after the film concluded.V/H/S/2 alum Timo Tjahanto’s L is for Libido is nothing short of perverse and wildly insane, it’s guaranteed to make a queasy viewer lunge for the garbage can. YOU’RE NEXT and V/H/S duo Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett’s Q is for Quack is a hilarious meta scenario that brings some most welcomed laughs to the anthology. FRONTEIR(S) director Xavier Gens and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN‘s Jason Eisner close out the film with gnarly and gory execution with X is for XXL and Y is for Youngbuck.
THE ABCs OF DEATH admittedly doesn’t entirely work as a whole, but the aforementioned segments, along with some other jaw dropping oddities such as F is for Fart from THE MACHINE GIRL‘s Noboru Iguchi, keep it beyond weird and thoroughly entertaining. It’s definitely one of the most experimental ventures I’ve seen in recent memory, further heightened when watched amongst friends and a good bit of alcohol flowing through your veins. Your mileage may vary, but I believe THE ABCs OF DEATH succeeds in it’s blood soaked plight, and I look forward to the next collection of alphabetic insanity.