THE ABCS OF DEATH – AFI Fest Review
26 letters of the alphabet. 26 different ways to die. A fairly simple premise, but it’s the sheer absurdity and audacity of some of the shorts that make The ABCs of Death a surprisingly fun watch. Rather than go through all 26 shorts and break them them down, let’s just dwell on the few that truly stand out.
“D” – With no dialogue, Marcel Sarmiento is able to create a suspenseful fight ring with some unexpected players. The slow motion and lighting make these few short minutes among the most dramatic in the anthology.
“T” – As the only short that was submitted from fans online, the amateur claymation short is a nice reprieve from some of the more gore-filled outings. It manages to capture a child’s nightmare perfectly with just molding clay and patience. A truly memorable short that the new director should be commended for.
“X” – I believe this is the only one where the villain is really societal pressures internalized instead of some outside force. In the few minutes we have with this character, you really feel for the main character as everyone judges her and forces her to mutilate herself to fit their demands. This is by far the most emotional and devastating of the shorts.
“M” – Probably the shortest entry in the film, the entire short hinges on one gross and sad revelation.
“Q” – The short gets meta and comes clean that Q is one of the hardest letters to do in this series. That honesty doesn’t help it get any better though.
“E” – One of the cheaper looking shorts, the camera work and special effects definitely reinforce that this is a low-budget venture. That would all be forgiven if only it were entertaining and even a little bit frightening.
“F” – This is by far the most memorable of the shorts for me, with it’s completely absurd and oddly sexual storyline. There are weird fetishes, but if this is something that guys are in to then I truly do not understand the opposite sex.
“L” – The producer prefaced the screening that when his parents-in-law saw the film, this is the one he was most concerned about them seeing and judging him as the weirdo who married their daughter. With that kind of intro, how could this not make it on to my Weird list? So much lewd sexual behavior crammed in to just 5 minutes, it definitely is not a short to be forgotten.
“Z” – As the last film in the series, I’m sure the director was hoping to end the anthology with a bang. Well, he definitely ended it on a strange note. Featuring a giant penis, Asian Nazis, and a hodgepodge of many more absurd notions, it hits for the fences and comes up just short of making any sense. However, as the last installment it gets a bit of a pass since it still entertains.
Overall, it’s a fun series that horror fans will enjoy. Not every short is a winner, but the good news is that it’s soon over and a better one is on the way.