ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

ABCs of Death 2
“Sequel” to: The ABCs of Death
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Like the first film, ABCs of Death 2 is an episode movie in which 26 directors each got a letter in the alphabet to which they chose a word from which they built their story/short film. The letter M was given to an unknown director through a contest.

Of course there are segments that I liked better than others and some I didn’t like at all, but altogether, I liked ABCs of Death 2 better than The ABCs of Death. Julien Maury – who was a guest at this year’s /slash – told us beforehand that one of the rules they got for their segment was that they shouldn’t use too much toilet humor. Apparently all the directors got that memo and it really does help. Watching 26 short films in a row is certainly exhausting, but since the last few segments are particularly strong, you don’t feel it as much. I really enjoyed myself.

As a warm-up we got to see the M-finalist Le Meat by Austrian Wolfgang Matzl (who also did the fantastic credits animation for the feature) which was really cool, funny and weird. A great way to get started!

[After the jump, I’ll talk briefly about all the segments separately. That includes listing the directors, writers (as far as I could find out who wrote what) and the names of each segment. Since it was fun to guess the titles while watching the film, you might not want to read on if you haven’t seen it yet.]


A is for Amateur
Director: E.L. Katz
Writer: David Chirchirillo
It was funny, unexpected and very fresh, at least after the slightly disorienting beginning and if you disregard the completely unnecessary, male-gaze-y lesbian kisisng.

B is for Badger
Director: Julian Barratt
As a Mighty Boosh-fan, I always love to see Julian Barratt (who also plays the lead), so that segment comes with a bonus for me. It had great, off-beat humor and I enjoyed it, though the camera work could have been beeter.

C is for Capital Punishment
Director: Julian Gilbey
Writer: Julian Gilbey
That segment was the first suckerpunch of the entire film and probably the one that hit me the hardest, especially after the light beginning. Tight direction and atmosphere.

abcs2_cD is for Deloused
Director: Robert Morgan
That did not work for me at all. The animated figures were disgustingly slimy and the idea extremely weird. I didn’t connect.

E is for Equilibrium
Director: Alejandro Brugués
Writer: Alejandro Brugués
That segement, while it looked nice, was such a misogynistic piece of film where women were portrayed as the root of all evil and as long as dudes stick together, they can drink their beer in peace. That shit really doesn’t fly with me.

F is for Falling
Director: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Writer: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
It was fantastic. Interesting, tense and unpredictable with an open end where the only thing you can be certain of is that it won’t end well for anybody.

abcs2_dG is for Grandad
Director: Jim Hosking
Writer: Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard
This was one of the weirder segments. I don’t really know what to do with it, but I was entertained.

H is for Head Games
Director: Bill Plympton
Writer: Bill Plympton
The animtion was cool, albeit completely strange. But I liked it, even though it really wouldn’t have needed to be any longer.

I is for Invincible
Director: Erik Matti
I didn’t get this. Apparently the amulet makes you immortal, but nobody wanted it because they didn’t want to be immortal? Why not just make a roster? Since I didn’t get the logic behind it, the entire segment fell flat for me.

J is for Jesus
Director: Dennison Ramalho
Writer: Jeff Buhler
I really liked this. The direction was good, as was the message and it looked cool. It just took maybe a little long to make clear what it was getting at.

abcs2_jK is for Knell
Director: Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper
Writer: Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper
This segment was a bit of a mind-fuck, but a stylish one that kept you entranced.

L is for Legacy
Director: Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen
I absolutely loved that we got Nigerian cinema in this anthology as well. But I’m afraid that I lacked quiet a bit of cultural context to really understand what was going on.

M is for Masticate
Director: Robert Boocheck
Writer: Robert Boocheck
That one was fun, especially the reveal at the end. The slow-mo was used effectively and I really enjoyed the entire thing.

abcs2_lN is for Nexus
Director: Larry Fessenden
This one was a little too convoluted for me and didn’t really become tight enough to work for me. But the costumes were great!

O is for Ochlocracy
Director: Hajime Ohata
Writer: Hajime Ohata
I really loved this take on zombies – in a genre where it sometimes feels like everything’s been done already, every once in a while something new crops up like this – that even worked beautifully around a small budget.

P is for P-P-P-P Scary!
Director: Todd Rohal
No, this just wouldn’t work for me. Making fun of people who stutter is not hilarious and neither is it edgy, it’s just offensive. It could have been a good segment, but that just killed it.

abcs2_pQ is for Questionnaire
Director: Rodney Ascher
Excellent editing, fantastic idea and generally really great – it was one of my favorites in the anthology.

R is for Roulette
Director: Marvin Kren
It looks absolutely straightforward, but only at the first glance. Whenever you think you got the story figured out, it twists away from you. And it looked great.

S is for Split
Director: Juan Martínez Moreno
Writer: Juan Martínez Moreno
This one was absolutely unpredictable, but mostly because I didn’t find it logical at all. The direction and editing was really fantastic, but that twist… no.

abcs2_rT is for Torture porn
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Writer: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
This one was rather idiosyncratic. It had great character design and the set-up was sufficiently creepy. But when it comes to the showdown, the direction, unfortunately, didn’t do the beginning justice.

U is for Utopia
Director: Vincenzo Natali
This segment looked great and had an interesting, political idea at its heart. The realization of this idea was at least as sleek as the version of the world it featured.

V is for Vacation
Director: Jerome Sable
Writer: Jerome Sable, Nicholas Musurca
The idea wasn’t bad and the cell phone video chat was nicely used, but I just didn’t understand why anybody would be friends with that disgusting dude?

W is for Wish
Director: Steven Kostanski
Writer: Jeremy Gillespie
Perfect concept and mostly great execution. Towards the end it got a bit muddled, but it was so strong until then that it hardly mattered.

abcs2_wX is for Xylophone
Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Writer: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
This one had an evil sense of humor, a great Béatrice Dalle, and fantastic production values. The only thing I have to criticize that it only became clear in the credits that Dalle was supposed ot be the grandmother and not some kind of Nanny or the mother herself.

Y is for Youth
Director: Sôichi Umezawa
Writer: Sôichi Umezawa
This segment was completely bonkers, but absolutely entertaining with it. It is also surprisingly insightful.

Z is for Zygote
Director: Chris Nash
Writer: Chris Nash
This really was the glorious finale and definitely the best segment of the entire anthology. The idea was original, fucked up and perfectly executed. I couldn’t take my eyes away.

abcs2_xSummarizing: Fun, though it might be cooler to actually watch it in small increments.

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