The ABCs of Death (2013)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Another Anthology Film

Has anyone else been noticing the growing popularity of anthology films lately? Anthology films are when many directors come together to shoot a number of short films that are all collected for a bigger project. You can see them in the recent films, Movie 43, V/H/S, and V/H/S/2. Usually, these films are rated pretty low, but we just keep seeing them coming. It definitely is a new way to make a movie, which has a lot of promise, but it will be a while until we figure out exactly how to do it right. The ABCs of Death is just another anthology film, but this time around, includes “masters of the horror genre” all over the planet to put in their two cents.

The worst part about these “collection of short films” movies is that there is almost no way to really say what the plot is, because collectively, there is none. The other movies mentioned above were actually smart and had an overall plot that connected each of the stories…this one didn’t other than the idea of the movie. Basically, the idea that you have to keep in mind is best stated as the first slide of the film, which states:

“The following feature film was created by 26 directors from around the world. Each director was given a letter of the alphabet and asked to choose a word.

They then created a short tale of death that related to their chosen word. They had complete artistic freedom regarding the content of their segments”

So. 26 directors, 26 letters, all surrounding a theme of death…The ABC’s of Death…that’s pretty simple.

Going through each of the short films, however, isn’t really possible for a review. It would be tedious first of all, and second of all, would spoil the entire experience. This isn’t like other collection films like Movie 43 or the V/H/S series, because while those are also anthology films, there weren’t as many short films as this movie had. So they were able to spread out their time limitations for those films while The ABCs of Death had twenty-six films…way too short to go through each one. You just kind of have to see it for yourself to know what each of these films are about.

Each short story has its own title, director, and cast. The title of the stories don’t always even have anything to do with death, which gave the director a challenge when making that word have anything to do with death – titles that included F is for Fart, and T is for Toilet. Those films were purposefully humorous, but they did have to do with death as well.

That is part of why these anthology films are popular, because the genre flips around…violently, and some people really like that. One short film is hilarious, it’s a cartoon, it’s ridiculous, and then you have a really futuristic short with a lot of CGI, and then you have a really cheap short, and then there’s Claymation and breaking the fourth wall. If anything, you would come to respect the variations of choices a filmmaker can make on a day-by-day basis.

Pay attention while watching this to see how the way they shot it corresponds to the theme they are going for. If they wanted humor, pay attention to how it was shot, and the music, is it a cartoon? The movie itself really isn’t all that great, but it can be really useful for a film student, because there aren’t really a ton of movies to see practically every genre back to back to tell the difference in how it was made – that much is actually pretty cool.

For the most part, being pinned against the other anthology films, this one is the most believable. Yes, there are completely ridiculous skits in this one as well, but that’s the beauty of having so many short films, the majority of them are actually a lot more believable than anything in Movie 43 or V/H/S. What doesn’t work for this one is the fact that there isn’t an overall plot. An overall plot was one of the only things that made anthology films like this special. They are their own thing, yet they are also all connected. These are only connected through the alphabet, but there is no story as to why there is an alphabet in the first place – not within the film. It almost works, but it really doesn’t.

So should you watch this movie? Well, this film can easily be skipped and not missed. Film students might get a kick out of it, and the same can be said for people constantly looking for the history of film to change. For the mass majority of people, however? I find it hard for anyone in the majority to really love this movie.

The ABCs of Death came to Blu-Ray and DVD on May 21!


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