Directed by Various
One of the most anticipated films at the Toronto International Film Festival was the ambitious anthology effort The ABCs of Death. Twenty-six horror directors from around the world (that include Nacho Vigalondo, Jason Eisener, Xavier Gens, Adam Wingard and Ti West) were given five thousand dollars each from Drafthouse Films to make a five-minute short about death that is based off a letter of the alphabet that they were randomly assigned to.
One would think that this would be the most entertaining horror anthology ever seen, but alas, the film starts off with a written warning stating that every director had artistic freedom when making each short, which basically means there are more stinkers than gems in this two-hour-plus collaborative effort.
The anthology starts with promise as Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo’s leads things off with his humorous and gory A for Apocalypse short that depicts a panicky wife making failed attempts to murder her loving husband in bed.
The next notable entry was the visceral D for Dogfight short that induced cheers in the audience while watching the immaculately shot piece that relied on style and music over dialogue and substance.
Other standout efforts included Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s quirky and self-referential Q for Quack short showcasing the filmmakers playing themselves, while Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener’s repugnant Y for Young Buck was appreciated for its 80’s throwback soundtrack and direction, rather than its despicable subject matter. However, it is Xavier Gens’ X for XXL, about a resentful overweight woman who is desperate to do anything be skinny, that is the film’s most powerful and goosebump-inducing entry.
Filmgoers will also have fun with YouTube contest winner Lee Hardcastle’s claymation entry T for Toilet, and the stoner crowd should go nuts after watching the most random short in the bunch, W for WTF.
Unfortunately, the stronger entries prove to be few and far between, and viewers are forced to sit through some very lewd shorts that include a disgusting masturbation contest, toilet humor and Ti West’s M for Miscarriage short that provoked many groans in the audience at the Midnight Madness premiere. The film ends with an inexplicable segment that involves a woman projectile shooting veggies from her hoo-ha, which regrettably was the worst in the bunch.
Although The ABCs of Death is full of installments that are more bad than good, none of the entries is over five minutes long, making it an easy watch (despite its long runtime). It is definitely one of the hardest projects to review and will be most appreciated on the festival circuit and for rowdy movie nights at home.
3 out of 5