Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#1,702. The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

Directed By: Rodney Ascher, Julian Barratt, et al

Starring: Martina García, Jen Soska, Béatrice Dalle

Tag line: "Some people never learn"

Trivia: Aside from directing one of the shorts, Jen and Sylvia Soska also appear briefly in "W is for Wish"

It’s time for another gruesome trip through the alphabet!

Like the 2012 original, 2014’s The ABCs of Death 2 invited filmmakers from around the world to participate in an experiment: each director (or team of directors) was assigned a letter of the alphabet, at which point they wrote and directed a short movie about death that, in some way, was connected to the letter they were given. The content of each film was left to the discretion of its individual creator.

And with the likes of Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary), Julien Maury (Inside), and Rodney Ascher (who helmed the 2012 documentary Room 237, in which five individuals presented their own unique interpretation of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining) joining in, The ABCs of Death 2 promised to be every bit as much fun as its predecessor.

As it was with The ABCs of Death, some of the shorts in The ABCs of Death 2 are better than others. In fact, my favorite entries this time around - in alphabetical order - are:

C is for Capital Punishment by Julien Gilbey – In this short, a small community takes the law into its own hands by executing a man (Ian Virgo) accused of murdering a teenage girl. But did he really commit the crime? Though a not-too-subtle jab at the death penalty, C is for Capital Punishment impressed me with its acting, and its final scene is as brutal as they come.

I is for Invincible by Erik Matti – A crazy, sometimes creepy film about four adult children doing everything they can to finish off their wealthy mother (Sherry Lara) so they can divvy up her estate. But no matter what they do, mama doesn’t want to die! The violence in this short is gloriously over-the-top, and its tongue-in-cheek approach only adds to the experience.

O is for Ochlocracy (Mob Rule) by Hajime Ohata – Putting a different spin on the zombie apocalypse, this film, about a woman (Aki Morita) brought before a court of the undead and charged with murder, was very creative, and pretty damn funny.

S is for Split by Juan Martinez Moreno – This incredibly intense home invasion tale has a few twists that I never saw coming.

T is for Torture Porn by Jan and Sylvia Soska – I’m a fan of the Soska sisters, and this short about an asshole pornographer (Connor Sweeney) who gets his comeuppance when his latest subject (Tristan Risk) doesn’t take his abuse lying down has one of the collection’s most satisfying finales.

Z is for Zygote by Chris Nash – The ABCs of Death 2 ends on a strong note thanks to this bizarre look at a pregnant woman (Delphine Roussel) who refuses to give birth until her husband (Timothy Paul McCarthy) returns home. The problem is: he’s been away almost 13 years! This clever short is as gross as it is imaginative, but I loved every minute of it!

Also worth mentioning is K is for Knell directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper, about a woman (Julija Steponaityte) who, after seeing a black orb floating in the sky, witnesses a series of murders occurring in the apartment building across the street. K is for Knell starts off great, but lost me in its final moments, which didn’t live up to what went before. I also enjoyed Vincenzo Natali’s U is for Utopia, a sci-fi flick set in the not-too-distant future that takes on society’s view of what constitutes a “perfect” person.

Alas, as with any anthology, The ABCs of Death 2 has its duds. L is for Legacy by Lancelot Iduwa Imasuen had an interesting concept (an African village faces the wrath of the Gods when a planned religious ceremony goes awry), but was undercut by its shoddy-looking monster; and P is for P-P-P-P Scary! by Todd Rohal, a black-and-white comedy about 3 inept prison escapees (Bryan Connolly, David Strong, and Vincent Prendergast) who encounter a strange man (Ivan Dimitrov), didn’t really make me laugh. In fact, I found the characters annoying.

Like The ABCs of Death, The ABCs of Death 2 is always intriguing (even its worst entries manage to keep your attention), and I can only hope that, somewhere along the line, we get a third film. As good as The ABCs of Death 1 and 2 are, I’m betting a few more treks through the alphabet will be just as entertaining.

1 comment:

Dell said...

To be honest, I hated the first and thought it only had a handful of good entries with a lot of crap between them. Not sure if I'll watch this one.