By: Addison Wylie
With recent horror anthologies, it seems as though the first instalment serves as an extreme experimental period. There’s a foreboding feeling of failure when making a project that draws in different visions from all over a filmmaking pallet, but horror nuts who are true to their craft will let their audacious attitudes plow through anything resembling an obstacle.
This was a clear example for the V/H/S series – an easy comparison to the ABCs of Death films. V/H/S had problems stringing together its short films, and figuring out ways to skip redundant exposition. The creators received the feedback, ironed out their format, and along came the much more successful and scary V/H/S/2.
The ABCs of Death was a swift scattershot flick and a real mixed bag. For every home run, there would be a tasteless mess to counter it. It lacked a producer’s voice of reason to sort out the crudities, but this also allowed filmmakers to let their imaginations run wild. The anthology was neither good or bad. It was an interesting experiment that had brighter prospects if a sequel came along.
Now, we have ABCs of Death 2 – my theory has been proven true. This second go at the alphabet is ten times better than its predecessor, and offers more for the audience to dive into.
26 new filmmakers step up to the plate, including Manborg’s Steven Kostanski, Cube’s Vincenzo Natali, the legendary Soska sisters, and acclaimed animator Bill Plympton. The selected filmmakers find creative ways to get full milage out of their desired letter, and they find inventive ways to push themselves as artists and shock the audience.
ABCs of Death 2 is a non-stop assortment of the warped and weird. You’ll look back at the screen in frozen revolt or twisted hilarity. It’s not for the faint of heart, and even horror buffs may find themselves wincing at the sheer graphicness.
However, there are those shorts that are too bizarre for their own good. Those filmmakers manage to get the reaction they’re looking for, but meanwhile, the audience can’t comprehend the story. The same trip-up occurred in the first film, but with cheap production values. With The ABCs of Death, movie goers may deem certain films as obscure nonsense, but they’ll be hypnotized by the practical effects and the stylized cinematography.
The series has grown with this latest instalment, but these anthologies really need an overseeing power who respects the films’ imagination but can also nullify repetitions. The ABCs of Death had an obscene amount of films dealing with pedophilia. The sequel constantly has women in pain and deathly circumstances. I’m aware that horror films are going to be drawn into a classic “damsel in distress” plot, but watching two hours of this sort of torture can be gruelling.
Just as V/H/S/2 stepped up its game, ABCs of Death 2 does the same. According to the credits, audiences can expect a third anthology in 2016. I can’t wait!
ABCs of Death 2 has already screened at TAD. However, ABCs of Death 2 is now available on VOD and iTunes. The anthology also hits Toronto’s Carlton Cinema on Friday, October 31.
For more information on the festival, visit the official TAD webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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