The ABCs of Death
2013, NR, 119 min. Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 22, 2013
A good concept yields scattershot results in this horror-film anthology. The film’s producers lined up 26 directors and assigned each a letter of the alphabet to make a short film about death, tied to a word that started with the letter each filmmaker was assigned. The final films vary in quality and vision to the extent one might expect in any compendium of work by 26 disparate individuals from around the globe. There are a few standouts, though the majority are middling films that do either too little or too much with their allotted few minutes. The majority of the filmmakers are alumni of Fantastic Fest, whose head honcho, Tim League, is one of the film’s producers through his Drafthouse Films company.
Among the filmmakers are the directors of such features as The Innkeepers, V/H/S, Down Terrace, A Serbian Film, and Hobo With a Shotgun. All the films reveal an abundance of technical skill, even if the stories are sometimes wanting. By chance, the latter half of the alphabet showcases stronger work, thus it’s a shame the movies have to run in alphabetical order rather than finding a more suitable lineup that would ebb and flow more naturally. Among my favorites are Marcel Sarmiento’s masterful “D Is for Dogfight,” Lee Hardcastle’s claymation “T Is for Toilet,” and Simon Rumley’s socially attuned “P Is for Pressure.” Count on there to be buckets of blood and bodily scarification and evisceration. These are filmmakers who are all, no doubt, able to count on one hand more than 26 ways to die.