The first ABCs of Death proved quite successful and now the the second installment in the series is poised for release. The sequel returns with 26 new directors and 26 new ways to die. Like the first, this second entry features short submissions from directors all over the world and each segment tackles a different letter of the alphabet. This incarnation sees vignettes helmed by some terrific talent, including E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills), The Soska Sister (American Mary), Vincenzo Natali (Cube), Alexandre Bustillo (Inside) and more.
The second incarnation in the ABC’s of Death franchise is an improvement over the first in many ways. There is greater continuity throughout this second outing and the talent is also arguably more impressive this time around. The success of the first film has allowed the producers of the second to attract more recognizable names and that has proven mostly beneficial to the outcome.
Like the first installment, there are standout entries and those that don’t stand out as much. I will outline some of those highs and lows for you in the text below.
The film starts and ends with a bang. There are some great contributions in the middle, but for me, most of the best entries are contained at either end of the picture. I really enjoyed E.L. Katz’s ‘A is for Amateur’. It cleverly follows an inexperienced hit man and delivers an ironic and amusing ending. It’s both humorous and entertaining. Also quite comical is Julian Barratt’s short entitled ‘B is for Badger. It has a perfectly befitting finale and the build up to it is just as much fun as the conclusion itself. F is for Falling by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado is also excellent. It is emotionally jarring and completely on point. ‘J is for Jesus’ by Denison Ramalho is poignant and eye opening. It takes on a much more serious tone than some of the other shorts included in The ABC’s of Death 2.
‘M is for Masticate’ by Robert Boocheck won the 26th director contest by beating out over 500 other submissions from aspiring directors. It’s slow-motion cinematography and clever ending make it stand out from the pack. It left me wanting to see more from Boocheck. Another noteworthy inclusion for me was ‘S is for Split‘ by Juan Martinez Moreno. His use of split screen and keen cinematography enhance his story tremendously. I was also taken by ‘V is for Vacation’ from Jerome Sable. His use of ‘found footage’ actually serves to enhance his segment and what a segment it is. It’s plenty violent and covers a lot of territory in its brief runtime. I also thoroughly enjoyed ‘X is for Xylophone’ by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury of Inside. The segment is short and sweet with a brutal and ultimately amusing conclusion.
In terms of those that I was less enthusiastic about, ‘E is for Equilibrium’ by Alejandro Brugues comes off as a bit juvenile and maybe even a little misogynistic in its message. ‘G is for Grandad’ by Jim Hosking is ultimately in poor taste and it just didn’t fit with most of the other shorts in the collection. ‘L is for Legacy’ by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen comes to mind as one of the segments with which I was not particularly impressed. I just watched it an hour ago and am hard pressed to even remember much of what it was about. It lacked the punch of some of the more memorable segments in the film. ‘O is for Ochlocracy’ by Hajime Ohata bored me to death. It’s attempt at political commentary fell flat. I’m also really tired of zombies, so that did not help.
Most of the other submissions fell somewhere in the middle. I have undoubtedly missed a couple highs and lows on account of the sheer volume of vignettes but this should give you a good jumping off point if you plan to scan through the film rather than watch it frame by frame.
The ABC’s of Death 2 is worth checking out for fans of the first as well as for anthology horror enthusiasts. It will see a VOD release on October 2nd and is scheduled for a limited theatrical bow beginning October 31st.
WICKED RATING: 5/10 [usr 5]
Studio/ Production Co: Drafthouse, Magnet
Length: 125 Minutes