electricsheep

The ABCs of Death

ABC of death

The ABCs of Death

Format: Cinema

Release date: 26 April 2013

Distributor: Monster Pictures

Directors: Various, including Adrián García Bogliano, Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noburo Iguchi, Jorge Michel Grau, Yûdai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Bruno Forzani & Hélène Cattet, Srdjan Spasojevic, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener, Yoshihiro Nishimura

USA/New Zealand 2012

123 mins

A high-concept portmanteau piece for which 26 modern horror directors were assigned with a letter of the alphabet and tasked with creating a short film. The resulting 123 minutes, from A for Apocalypse to Z for Zetsumetzu is, as you might expect, a mixed bag, with low-key, lo-fi naturalism next to cartoon expressionism, art house butting up against gross animation.

The batting average for the shorts is pretty high overall, with few outright duds. The problem is that most of the contributors come from a similar age, sex and mindset, resulting in a cumulative blokey, snarky chat-room feel as the film progresses – a battle to be more transgressive, freaky and cool, with surprisingly few films aiming to actually scare you. The viewer starts to feel somewhat numb, clocking up where they are in the alphabet and wondering how much more T & A, toilets, reflex post-modernism, bugs and Cronenbergian ickiness they can take.

For the record, Timo Tjahjanto wins the sickness race with Libido; Ben Wheatley delivers a sharp, subjective camera shock with Unearthed; Hydro-Electric Diffusion is agreeably bonkers; Quack and WTF are pretty funny, in a knowing, American smartarse way; Youngbuck winningly feels like a twisted loveletter to the 80’s high school movie and Fart and Zetsumetsu (both Japanese) seem determined to throw as much weirdness as possible at the screen in the hope that some of it might mean something. For my money, the real standouts were Dogfight by Marcel Samiento, a jagged little tale with a political edge that is scored, edited and shot to perfection, and Forzani/Cattet’s Orgasm, which is a beautiful, erotic semi-abstract nightmare unlike anything else around it. But hell, dive in, there’s something to upset everyone.

Mark Stafford

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