The ABCs of Death 2 Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Monster Pictures UK
Directed by Various
Written by Various
2014, 125 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 30th March 2015
Far too many to mention
The horror anthology is a funny old beast. It's always difficult to predict which way the general level of quality will swing, for better or worse – the anthology movie is only as good as its best or worst segments. We've seen something of a resurgence recently, with the likes of V/H/S and The ABCs of Death doing their bit to reinvigorate the old format. This they have done to varying levels of success. If the first V/H/S was fun but forgettable, its sequel was a minor masterpiece (no, really. Have you seen Safe Haven?). This was followed by The ABCs of Death, an ambitious 26-segment collection showcasing (relatively) new and interesting horror talent from around the world. Sadly, it was utter rubbish, to the extent where I have trouble remembering a single moment from the film, save for maybe a general sense of distaste and there being a lot of fart jokes.
Sequels to both have followed and, as if to evidence the unpredictability of the format, the reverse has happened. Where the much anticipated (by me) V/H/S: Viral has emerged as one of the most disappointing horror films of 2014 (let's not even get started on how much I hated that stupid magician bit), The ABCs of Death 2 has come out as one of its best. Not coincidentally, there are no fart jokes here.
If the horror anthology is only as good as its best components, there's plenty to choose from here. No time for a wraparound or bookends, it kicks off with a barnstorming entry by E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills) that's subversive, funny and stars the great Andy Nyman. "Maybe", Katz's instalment suggests, "this one won't be bad after all". That promise blossoms with Julian Barratt's B is For Badger and rarely reins it in from there. 26 short films leaves a lot of room for the bad to outweigh the good, but in this case it really doesn't. Of the 26 entries, there's only two or three that are outright bad. A couple more are middling-to-mediocre, but that's still a pretty great batting average, especially in a film which clocks in at plus 2 hours long.
Even the Soska twins fare well, with their T is for Torture Porn emerging as perhaps the most tolerable thing they've done to date. Those are the big names in a film which tends to showcase new talent from around the world. The global efforts get you the political F is for Falling (by the directors of Big Bad Wolves), a faintly condescending Nollywood piece (thanks to its use of subtitles despite the characters speaking English), and a tremendous Japanese zombie short. Y is for Youth is the second Japanese entry, featuring some wonderfully bizarre special effects and a surprisingly heartfelt story. Jim Hosking joins the Brits with his bound-to-be-divisive G is for Grandad, an impressively unpleasant tale about the bickering between a young man and his grandfather. And I haven't even mentioned the rest! This sequel is packed full of ideas – most of them pretty damn good.
The ABCs of Death 2 has all of this and more – a truly successful anthology movie that never lets up, even during its less good segments.