ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Fantastic Fest. For more information on the festival visit fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.
ABCs of Death 2 promises 26 short films, each delivering a different method or theme surrounding death. Some shorts are light, some play like a cautionary tale and others deliver a strong, sometimes heavy handed message through the voice of the filmmaker. Overall the sequel offers a more focused approach when compared to its predecessor. ABCs of Death was all over the place. Gone (mostly) are the toilet humor surrounding farting and other bodily functions that were employed for gross-out factor. The short films are clever in their setup and execution.
Overall the sequel offers a more focused approach when compared to its predecessor. ABCs of Death was all over the place.
Two of the light-hearted short films include: “A is for Amateur” and “M is for Masticate.” The former toys with the idea of the perfect assassination. A hitman is taken through a montage with quick cuts of his gear, preparation, the target and the execution. Not everything goes according to plan and the film ends on a hysterical note. Masticate is shot on a high-speed camera in slow motion. A man is seen in his soiled underwear running down the street. Is he infected with rage? Is he a zombie? While the audience questions what the heck they’re watching they will also laugh. The death involved and the events leading to the death delivers a huge laugh with an audience.
Notable cautionary tales include: “F is for Falling” and “R is for Roulette.” Falling opens with a female Israeli fighter pilot stuck in a tree. A Palestinian militiaman approaches with the intentions of killing her and claiming fame for his trophy. The woman uses wit to delay him, feeding on his pride. The film has layers to it because of the cultural significance and the overall pride and ego of men in general. This film illustrates the most extreme price of maintaining your pride. Roulette follows a trio sitting in a dark, dusty basement while they play Russian Roulette. It’s unclear why they’re playing this deadly game but it’s clear two of them are very close. Roulette builds tension in a short period of time. The death involved in Roulette is deliberately frustrating. The lesson learned in this short is to never hand over the keys to your life to somebody else.
“E for Equilibrium” and “Y is for Youth” carry strong messages. Equilibrium is presented as one continuous shot of two men stranded on an isolated island. They’re as happy as two men can be in the situation. They have a system for survival and appear to be thriving under the system. A woman washes on the shore to join the two men. The audience learns how things change after the woman is introduced. Equilibrium poses the question, “Do you choose your bros before hos?” It’s a light, funny film with a deeply personal message between the lines. Youth tells a harrowing story of child abuse. Child abuse is a touchy subject and I applaud the filmmaker for going down this dark, personal journey. A young girl is physically and mentally abused. Child neglect hardly begins to describe the parenting style we see in this film. Out of all the shorts this one got me a little choked up – a nice surprise among a series of nasty deaths.
If you’re cautious after the first one, approach this with an open mind. It looks like this franchise is here to stay.
The final product of ABCs of Death 2 is a more polished version of the first. The approach is more focused and feels more mature. There is a note at the beginning that suggests each filmmaker was given complete freedom to choose what to do with their film but it’s possible there is an invisible asterisk planted there. Some of the shorts miss their mark and of course there are several more themes illustrated. I chose to cover the first three that came to mind. If you’re cautious after the first one, approach this with an open mind. It looks like this franchise is here to stay. Sign me up for the next one!
The final product of ABCs of Death 2 is a more polished version of the first. The approach is more focused and feels more mature.