26 new directors from around the world are once again given the unique opportunity to be part of the second set of this horror anthology which deals with the concept of death. The first one had a lot of promising shorts. As a matter of fact, this was the movie where I was first introduced to Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the geniuses behind You’re Next.
There were some good films in the sequel too, but overall, I would say The ABCs of Death 2 was more weird than scary.
Unlike in my first review of the original movie, I’m just going to talk about the standouts in this round.
B is for Badger by Julian Barratt
A documentary style short about a douchebag wildlife show host who gets his comeuppance when he becomes the victim of a giant badger his team is doing a feature on.
I really liked this because it was very simple, it was able to make good use of its time to establish the characters and the story so the audience was able to respond appropriately to the ending.
E is for Equlibrium by Alejandro Brugues
Two guys stuck on an island find a beautiful girl who washes ashore. However, their friendship is tested when they start to develop feelings towards the stranger.
With no dialogue and just some island music as background, director Alejandro Brugues was able to tell the story of a bromance that ends in horror but the twist in how it happens.
H is for Head Games by Bill Plympton
An animated (and literal) take on the title.
While the short was quite literal, I appreciate the artwork and the hard work that went with developing this idea.
I is for Invincible by Erik Matti
Four children try to kill their mother to get their inheritance but the old woman cannot be killed because she carries the stone of immortality that she needs one of her offspring to accept before she can die.
Director Erik Matti used the Filipino folklore on a mythical monster called aswang as inspiration for this tale and while there was little time to tell his story, I think he was able to communicate the gist of the tale to the audience.
J is for Jesus by Dennison Ramalho
A gay man is kidnapped by religious fanatics and tortured into denouncing his “evil” ways. His dead lover comes to his aid.
The short is unique because its not just a horror, its a social commentary on religion, acceptance and tolerance. It was able to communicate the hatred and apathy of people towards members of the LGBT community which is a horror in itself.
K is for Knell by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper
A mysterious black ink turns people into killers.
I loved the genuine feel of horror in the shots used in this short. Its style was reminiscent of Pulse and Cloverfield but it maintained its uniqueness with its hanging ending.
M is for Masticate by Robert Boocheck
A man in dirty underwear runs amuck in the streets of London.
This is one of my favorites because its just so fun to watch an overweight guy in slow motion attacking random people in the street. The cinematography was good, as was the editing and the story was really good for a short film.
Q is for Questionnaire by Rodney Ascher
A man answers a set of questions to test his intelligence only to receive a horrific prize.
I liked this short because of its unique balance of calmness and frenzy intersped with each other. Director Rodney Ascher was able to interpose two separate segments of the story together flawlessly. Great editing and storytelling.
R is four Roulette by Marven Kren
A couple and another man are forced to play a game of Russian Roulette in a basement for an unknown reason.
Unlike the other shorts, I did not have an trouble figuring out the title for this one. It was good because director Marven Kren was able to establish an air of suspense throughout the film and using black and white also added an air of vintage sophistication to his feature.
S is for Split by Juan Martinez Moreno
A man’s home is attacked while he is on a business trip and he frantically tries to get help for his wife and baby only to find out that the assailant is someone he knows.
I loved this film because it was able to maximize the time allotted to it, telling a complicated story and depicting a sense of heart pounding urgency by using multiple panels of sequences of events happening simultaneously. The ending is awesome.
Y is for Youth by Soichi Umezawa
A teenager fantasizes about the violent deaths of her abusive parents.
One of the weirdest horror movies in the last ABCs of Death anthology was Z is Zetsumetsu by Yoshihiro Nishimura and this year, director Soichi Umezawa proves that the Japanese are consistent in this respect. Youth was edgy, violent and surreal but in the end, it was able to deliver a good horror short, even if it was just in its lead character’s head.
Z is for Zygote by Chris Nash
A woman staves off giving birth for 13 years, waiting for her husband to come home.
This is yet another short film in my top three. It was gross, it was disturbing, and it was a successful horror not just cinematically but psychologically as well. It was well crafted from the story to the execution.
All in all, I think the ABCs of Death 2 did not quite measure up to the original because directors had more trouble creating concepts with the restriction of letters assigned to them. Many of the stories felt forced and some were not able to deliver on the limited time allotted to them. There were good films in the lot for sure, and I’m sure there will still be more to watch out for in the third installment in 2016, but for now, I’m just going to settle for giving this installment a passing mark. No more, no less.