Starring: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Kyra Zagorsky, Iván González
You may like this if you like: Three… Extremes (Fruit Chan et al, 2004), Destricted (Marina Abramovich et al, 2006), V/H/S (David Bruckner et al, 2012)
An anthology consisting of 26 short films by 26 different directors. Each director was given £5,000 and complete freedom to make a film about death focussing on one letter of the alphabet.
I know it is extremely obvious to say this, but a film with a running time of over two hours consisting of 26 short films is inevitably going to be hit and miss. Unfortunately for me it is predominantly more misses than hits. It is an ambitious initial concept that though perhaps it is a little naive it should receive some credit. It is also a good theme to choose; death is one of the few subjects that has universal appeal in that it of course affects all of us throughout our lives and obviously at the end of it. This should therefore have created much more emotional engagement than there actually is. The directors used are from all over the world and so in theory all the different cultural influences should provide some rich and genuinely interesting meditations on the theme of death.
There are some bigger names here such as Ben Wheatley (Sightseers), Ti West (The Innkeepers), Jake West (Doghouse), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) and Xavier Gens (Hitman) to name a few I know. I am sure those more familiar with horror films further afield will be more familiar with some of the other names too, but they have all predominantly produced self indulgent offensive-for-the-sheer-bloody-sake-of-it rubbish.
When I got to ‘f’ to find out is for ‘fart’ it felt like I was watching Movie 43 with more blood. At this point I could not help but sigh in the knowledge that there were still 20 films to go. Boundaries of taste are of course there to be pushed and tested but most of these films are just plain nasty for the sake of it with no actual artistic integrity, and are just extremely dull and pointless.
Things start off ok with Nacho Vigalondo’s A is for Apocalypse which has a good little twist at the end and Enersto Díaz Espinosa’s C is for Cycle being genuinely inventive. Marcel Samiento’s D is for Dogfight feels genuinely cinematic but after that the only highlight is Lee Hardcastle’s stop-motion animation of T is for Toilet, which is both imaginative and entertaining. There are some attempts to be funny such as W is for WTF and Q is for Quack but once again these just prove irritating immature self indulgent crap. Whereas Ben Wheatley (a director who I am a fan of) looks like he cannot even be bothered with the extremely boring POV style U is for Unearthed. Ti West received much acclaim for Innkeepers but his M is for Miscarriage is quite simply vile and nasty. I could not find any real emotional connection with any story (A, C, D and T the exceptions) and I don’t think any effort went into trying to create any from anyone. It is basically 22 directors laughing at anyone watching this and mockingly shout “I get to make films for a living and you don’t! Look what I can waste £5,000 on!” £5,000 is of course a lot of money to many people, it certainly is to me.
The ABCs of Death takes what could be an interesting concept and turns it into an irritating, boring and quite frankly pathetic vanity project. With a few exceptions, the whole experience is quite simply an insult to any dedicated film fan.