The ABC’s of Death is divided into 26 individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The directors were then given free rein in choosing a word to create a story involving death. The varieties of death range from accidents to murders to fantasy and back again.
Some of the world’s most expert horror directors were part of this project including Ben Wheatley (Kill List), Ti West (House of the Devil), Srdjan Spasojevic (A Serbian Film), Simon Rumley (Red, White & Blue), Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) and Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next).
What makes The ABC’s of Death so interesting is the concept and whilst some of the films are quite lazy, the overall collection succeeds in reminding the audience of the old fashioned midnight b-movies. The collection also boasts a great sense of humour amidst the drama and gore, which it is confident about throughout the films. It is an easy compilation to watch, where only a few of the films really require intelligence and concentration but it is very clear that the filmmakers had a good time putting their films together. For all the fun on this collection, it is really necessary that for the proposed franchise to succeed it is better curated in future, ensuring that only the strongest of the films makes the final cut.
Furthermore, The ABC’s of Death has a selection of films from around the world, in different languages, varying horror genres and even an animation in there! This is the best point about the collection, that for someone unaware of the multitude of horror stories that can and have been told, this is a great introduction.
The highlight films include;
D is for Dogfight (directed and written by Marcel Sarmiento)
A brilliantly mysterious drama, which plays so well on people’s fear of dogs. The film actually has a small twist, which makes you re-evaulate your relationships with your pet.
F is for Fart (directed and written by Noboru Iguchi)
Possibly the oddest film on the compilation, but really does highlight the surreal nature of Japanese filmmaking and the extents to which it can be pushed.
J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai Movie) (directed and written by Yûdai Yamaguchi)
Following on from above, this is another surreal film, which is interestingly steeped in Japanese ritual. It opens up a culture, rarely discussed on contemporary film.
This is the cartoon short, which is at its heart, simply hilarious. It is about a woman trying to flush her stool away. Many of us know the feeling when something just won’t disappear down the toilet and so this short plays upon this mundane action and makes it deathly.
L is for Libido (Directed and written by Timo Tjahjanto)
The most successful short on the collection, in terms of being an intelligent and yet horrifying film, which discusses the boundaries that horror film can go alongside our contemporary cultures opinions of the representation of sex.
T is for Toilet (directed and written by Lee Hardcastle)
Another genius feat of filmmaking, in the guise of a claymotion film about a boy who doesn’t like to go to the toilet but his parents don’t understand why. They will by the end of the film!
XXL is a careful dissection of our attitudes to weight and it’s representation in culture. Whilst the film is part Saw, it does bring to the forefront the audience’s fears about eating and obesity.
This is what The ABC’s of Death is able to achieve at its best; a discussion and confrontation of fears and thoughts in our society. Highlighting things that are often openly argued about and adding the horror twist on them, which often pushes the audience to really contemplate and change attitudes. At it’s worst, the compilation can appear lazy, gratuitous and clumsy in its telling of stories and the filmmaking itself. All in all, an exciting collection and worth a watch on a quiet afternoon – they are already putting together the second volume!