Looking forward to watching The ABCs of Death? I don’t blame you. What’s not to get excited about; a film celebrating our love of horror by way of expression in an alphabet style presentation? Huge potential and immense anticipation aplenty, I could have burst with excitement before viewing. What to expect? A marathon of gore, scary inventive short stories? Could this rival my recent favourite V/H/S I wondered. I wasn’t going to waste any time finding out…
Twenty minutes into the film and it hit me. It hit me like a big, wet, smelly fish smack across the face. Disappointment. Mine was catastrophic.
26 directors, 26 ways to die. That is the catchphrase for The ABCs of Death. It must have sounded like a great idea when being pitched, and to be fair, it is a superb idea. I love a unique film and one with style always wins my vote. With 26 different directors we get 26 different visions of horror from people whom we assume are both talented and a lover of the genre. Yet, the majority of short stories on offer here looks and feels as if each director was either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. I got bored. I kept hoping the next letter in sequence would be better than the last. Before I knew it, I was wishing away the alphabet and running out of letters.
I really wanted to like this film. I really commend the makers for trying to do something different here but I feel as if it’s the directors that have let the project down. That’s assuming they did devise their own short stories. Maybe each story was presented to them and they had no choice in the matter. In Ti West’s case, I certainly hope so because he is a director that interests me greatly yet his ‘M for Miscarriage’ is not only way too short in length but it suggests he couldn’t even be bothered which just undermines the whole concept.
The ABCs of Death is all over the place. It’s disjointed. It’s strange. It’s a mess. It does get slightly better during the second half of the alphabet but then that wasn’t very difficult to achieve. Most notable being ‘N for Nubile’ which feels like a funny albeit brief comedy sketch and ‘S for Speed’ has style and is the closest thing to a twist ending that you will get with these stories. Some sketches are just okay, whilst others just infuriate. Most are a bit arty and weird, whilst it’s those that have a little more narrative that are better for it. But where is your ‘Z for Zombie invasion’, ‘V for Vampire bite’, ‘C for Chainsaw’ or ‘K for Killer Clowns!? All the things we come to expect and enjoy from the genre. Instead we get ‘F for farting’ for crying out loud!! farting?? The rest of the film seems dominated with mini stories fascinated with either animals, tits, tits on animals, masturbation and the real favourite; a toilet (?) yeah for real, just count how many times you see a bog in this movie.
The ABCs of Death is a huge let down. You will be disappointed too unless you are happy watching a cartoon turd with a killer instinct or men masturbating to stay alive. Yet, despite all this, it is a film you will still want to see. I would even if I had read negative reviews. Any horror nut would. You’ll want to see it for yourself, debate it with your friends and praise parts whilst slagging the rest off no doubt. Hell, that may even make the film feel a little more worth the viewing experience. But when all is said and done and the dust has settled, you will feel a little sadness inside because you will have known that The ABCs of Death was indeed a wasted opportunity.