The ABC’s of Death is like eating a box of chocolates slipped under your front door by a stalker: A few are naturally savory or unexpectedly delightful, the bulk are just there, and then you run across the weird ones that you need to wash down afterwards with something strong… followed by a few that were doctored up so badly (re: Crunchy Frog and Anthrax Ripple) that you vomit the half-chewed glob along with the remnants of your lunch into the trash.
ABC’s definitely covers a gamut of good to bad, realistic to surreal, bloody to weird, a few animated shorts, serious to sad, amusing to superfluously over the top in terms of sheer carnage. This is a movie where the “No animal was harmed…” disclaimer should be modified to “No animal or human was harmed…” as the body count for various forms of mammalian life in general here is rather high. I would even categorize two of the entries as some kind of freaky-disturbing Asian torture p0rn, except I hesitate to embarrass the torture p0rn crowd by the comparison.
One welcome shift is that many of the clips are foreign, and English audiences will need to use the subtitle feature to follow dialogue; that’s actually a testament to diversity and kind of a welcome feature.
A few of the directors will be recognizable to general Western audiences, especially because of their involvement with some fairly recent indie-style projects as well as franchises like V/H/S. I found the Ti West clip (M) horribly disappointing and unimaginative, while the Adam Wingard sequence (rather meta, and involving an innocent-looking fowl) was one of the funnier shorts in the movie.
If I had to pick, probably the most dramatically interesting and high-quality production of the bunch was D (by Marcel Sarmiento), while the one that makes the most coherent (if bloody) social statement was X (by Xavier Gens). I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence that both entries that could be labeled as animation (one conventional, one claymation) deal with the inherent dangers of scatalogical functioning.
ABC’s embodies both the benefits and flaws of acquiring 26 unspecified clips from a variety of filmmakers, stuck in a pre-specified order. While you will see quite a variety of clips of endurable length, the only editorial control lies in the original choice of the directors and what letter they are assigned. There is no way to create an encompassing dramatic arc, control pacing, or prevent repetition in theme or setting. With a two-hour run-time, if you can stomach the prerequisite gore, this is one of those movies that is more watchable in bite-sized pieces (if you dare pop one in your mouth); doing so won’t mess up the flow, and watching the film in a few sittings, when you’re in the mood, might even make it more enjoyable.