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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.28.14] horror

By their very nature, anthology projects can be problematic and when you get into something like the ABC's of Death, where you have 26 short films with varying styles, directors, stories and ideas, each between 1 and 4 minutes long, you really hit trouble. It's hard to make anything particularly memorable or even good in that limited period of time and looking at the response to the first ABC's of Death, it seemed the task was too monumental to succeed. And yet the producers have seen fit to give it another go.

Full admission: I didn't make it through ABC's of Death. I hit a wall at "J," turned it off and never looked back. I vaguely remember a scene here and there but none of the shorts I managed to get through were memorable enough to stick with me. Actually, the entire experience was rather painful and I clearly remember wishing it to be over soon and realizing I wasn't even partway through the list. Why would I bother with ABC's of Death 2? Mostly I was hoping that it was better than the first but I also made a deal with myself that if it wasn't going well, I'd turn it off and not look back.

I made it through the marathon of 26 short films and I can report that ABC's of Death 2 is better than what I saw of its predecessor. That's not exactly high praise but the sequel does mange to tip the scales in the good to bad ratio though there's still a load of shorts that are so mediocre they're completely forgettable.

On the good are works by master animator Bill Plympton whose "Head Games" is instantly recognizable as a weirdly beautiful Plympton original, Juan Martinez Moreno's "Split" which makes excellent use of the split screen concept, Vincenzo Natali's glossy and odd "Utopia" and Jerome Sable's very funny "Vacation." Also of note are Steve Kostanski's "Wish" which delivers on the expected Astron-6 wackiness, Kristina Buoyzyte & Bruno Samper's "Knell" which is unsurprisingly (for those who have seen Vanishing Waves) stylish while Marvin Kren's "Roulette" delivers an unexpected surprise.

I didn't care for the rest of the titles and of the entire line-up, there were only four that I would consider absolutely terrible which is a definite improvement from the first anthology. That said, ABC's of Death 2 is still not best seen in one sitting but rather spread over a couple of nights or even better, it's the perfect thing to screen during a Halloween party where folks can spot something they like from across the room, watch it for a few minutes and then return to drinks and conversation.

I'm not convinced an anthology made up of this many shorts can ever be completely successful but I do like the attempt and it's nice to see that the quality and ingenuity of the filmmakers seems to be improving with new entries. I still prefer the V/H/S franchise which seems to value quality over quantity but I did genuinely enjoy portions of ABC's of Death 2.

ABC's of Death 2 is now available on VOD and opens in theatrical release on Friday, October 31.

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jj (7 years ago) Reply

Your review just made me feel exhausted. I can't bring myself to watch this. Now I'll see Tales of Halloween no problem. 11 shorts instead of 26 is more digestible and each director has more time to work with.

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