The ABCs of Death
Anthology films are usually inconsistent in terms of quality, even if all the segments are from the same team of writers and helmed by a single director. To group twenty-six separate films together is asking for inconsistency, and in the case of The ABCs of Death, that is exactly the result. That being said, this is a unique and interesting experiment, and so as a curiosity it is worth seeing.
The premise is simple: each director was given a letter of the alphabet and had to make a short film lasting no longer than a few minutes depicting someone dying, with the death caused by something that begins with that particular letter. It sounds childish, and it is. Before each film a collection of children’s toy letters swirl in blood and spell out the title, beginning with ‘A is for Apocalypse.’
Some of the twenty-six shorts are very well-made. Others reek of over-ambition and are limited by their budgets. Some are crass, some are funny, a few address real-world issues like exploitation or domestic violence, and a couple stand out as excellent. My personal favourites are ‘U is for Unearthed’ by Ben Wheatley, ‘T is for Toilet’ by Lee Hardcastle, ‘D is for Dogfight’ by Marcel Sarmiento, and ‘L is for Libido’ by Timo Tjahjanto, though the latter two are hard to watch for differing reasons. Low points are ‘G is for Gravity’ by Andrew Traucki and ‘E is for Exterminate’ by Angela Bettis, though neither are anywhere near as misjudged and insensitive as ‘M is for Miscarriage’ by Ti West.
The ABCs of Death is a silly diversion and an intriguing window into the minds of filmmakers who are working to a prompt. It was pulled together by Ant Timpson and credited as being based on a nightmare he had. It is unbalanced and unhinged, mostly in bad taste, but overall a lot of fun.