26 directors all crammed into the same film to bring 26 different short films to the screen and all feature a different way one can meet their demise. It’s a gimmick to be sure, but one that I found fascinating- for a while anyway. I remember watching the red band trailer and loving the hell out of it for how insane it looked. It never really crossed my mind that the red band trailer compiled the most insane moment of every short into what is basically a short film of its own- and with a better result than this collection that rings in just over two hours.
I also never really thought about the best way to review something like this without boring anyone reading this and myself in the process. Synopsizing each and every short would be incredibly time consuming and since each short is only a few minutes long it would likely serve to ruin the bit. So before watching it I just wrote each letter and a few details so I could remember what I liked and finally rather I liked or disliked the short in general. At the end I added up the good and the bad to come up with my overall consensus. Less than half of the 26 shorts in THE ABCS OF DEATH are genuinely good and the vast majority mediocre at best. There were quite a few that I wrote were completely terrible and a couple that I outright hated. Even ones that were bad had stuff to like about them, but had material I either found stupid or offensive on some level.
One’s enjoyment of this film as a whole depends largely upon what one finds funny, entertaining or clever. For instance if watching people being forces to masturbate to increasingly less sexy actions in front of them, one of which being a young boy being molested and if you are not the first to climax a wooden spike is forced through your body started at your ass sounds interesting to you then good news, it’s there. However, even if some of these appeal to you once you’ve sat and watched them for two hours they start to test your patience- especially the really terrible entries. Also, the excuse that if you don’t like one then the good news in a couple minutes there will be a new one doesn’t work if you’re dreading the next or the next short happens to be even worse than the last.
I will say that a few of the ones I enjoyed came largely from popular up and coming horror directors like Adam Wingard, Jason Eisner and one I found oddly great by Xavier Gens. Also given the brief nature of the shorts many tend to feel more like music videos than short films, which isn’t necessarily bad because two of them ended up being ones I really enjoyed- D IS FOR DOGFIGHT and Y IS FOR YOUNGBUCK being examples of what I’m talking about.
Sadly the most creativity some of these can muster is making terrible fart jokes and tons of toilet humor- one claymation short is the standout of the few quite literal toilet jokes that I actually found entertaining. Some have horrid CGI and practical effects, terrible acting and woefully unimaginative twists or ideas. A handful suffer from every problem I’ve mentioned while some just failed to illicit anything more than a ‘meh’ from me when they were over, which is what kept me from drifting indefinitely into hate territory and in the almost so-so realm of enjoyment.
I originally wanted to come back and finish this review by saying half of THE ABCS OF DEATH is worth a watch, which is true on some level. Some of the short films are good enough that I wasn’t totally mad about the time I spent watching it, in fact some were actually really fun. However, there are a handful of entries in this collection of short films that I actively hated to the point I wanted to just give up and shut the whole thing off entirely. As a drunken night in with friends I think this could be a fun watch and some shorts might find the audience it wants, but ultimately THE ABCS OF DEATH falls well on the short side in praise as a mixed bag affair.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)