The ABCs of Death Review: 26 Little Slices of Hell
The ABCs of Death is an anthology film using the alphabet and death as the common thread between each of the short films. This is an interesting concept somewhat based (I’d guess) on the Gashlycrumb Tinies from Edward Gorey, in which 26 children perish due to alphabetical hazards. Dark humor, but wonderful all the same. The filmmakers only needed to make sure that the cause of death was in some way related to the letter they’d gotten.
As in any anthology film, this kind of idea is a very mixed bag. There are a few that will leave you either scratching your head and others that will make you want to claw your eyes out with how awful they are.
There are a few really awesome short films here, but the one that stands out for me most is the letter D, which is for Dogfight. Not much of a spoiler, as when you see the setup, you pretty much can guess it, though if you’re thinking it’s just a dog vs dog scenario you’re wrong. That would be creepy enough, but what they do is more interesting than that. A good horror film makes you uncomfortable, and D is for Dogfight is shot in a way that makes you unable to look away from the screen, despite what you’re watching. But it also manages to be one of the only films that has an emotional payoff of any kind in the end. It’s one of the only entries in The ABCs of Death. that feels like a complete short film. An interesting fact about this segment is that the main human character is the trainer of the dog.
L is another great segment, though for a completely different reason. The subject matter goes from mildly arousing to perverted and sick in a short time and yet it doesn’t feel as exploitative as some of the other segments that dealt less seriously with their subject matter. This one was more disturbing than Dogfight, and some people will hate it despite how well it pulls off its connection with the letter L. This segment definitely left me with mixed emotions, and I think that’s a good thing.
X was another letter that was very well done and yet still incredibly hard to watch. But I didn’t feel that the gore was excessive for the story being told and it had an emotional impact as well.
What short films a person will care for or hate in The ABCs of Death comes down to a matter of taste. Not necessarily good or bad, but what sort of films you like to watch. I found N, Q, W and T to be well done and light-hearted. Q and W kind of come from the same problem (we don’t know what to do with our letter) but they go off in very different directions and both end up feeling satisfying when they ended. There were some segments that were hard to watch because of their content
There’s a bit of alphabetical tomfoolery in The ABCs of Death, as some of the directors use foreign words as the titles for their segments, which makes them a lot harder to guess. There were some that kind of ended up being impossible to guess as well.
The ABCs of Death has some segments that are good, a few that are truly bad, and some that are tasteless, but by the end (and Z is a wild ride, let me tell you) the thing I felt the most was brain overload. A noble experiment, but not one I’m sure I’ll ever want to watch again. At least the sequel potential seems sort of limited.