Anthology films are a tough sell on the best of days, but at least ABC’s of Death 2 is a marked step up from the first installment, with more of the best and brightest talents that horror has to offer on board.
From A to Z, 26 different directors from across the globe and are given free reign to tell any story that inspired them as long as it dealt with death. It’s hard to genuinely put a rating on an anthology film, but there’s a better ensemble of storytellers here with far fewer weak links then the first installment.
Director E.L. Katz recaptures the levels of brutally dark comedy that he reached with last year’s Cheap Thrills with a short that takes great pleasure in the depravity with a hitman who finds a simple job going horribly wrong. Julian Barratt keeps the laughs going as a simple argument on the set of a documentary shoot escalating to hilarious degrees. Alejandro Bruges and his tale of two guys stuck on a desert island goes straight to core of what makes male friendships tick. The funniest comes from director Jim Hosking with the story of going-nowhere grandson living with his grandfather, and the two finding that they have more in common then they ever imagined.
Things get serious, too, as the auteurs behind Big Bad Wolves, Israel’s own Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, give us a simple and salient view into the senseless horrors of war. Director Julian Gibney makes a solid little tale of capital punishment gone awry, and Dennison Ramalho and his gripping 5 minutes of a man getting lynched for his sexual preferences plays out as being terrifyingly believable.
Like any anthology film there are some duds, too. Robert Morgan’s stop motion animated short tries to be creepy, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Jen & Sylvia Soska and their demented look at misogyny is uncomfortably skin deep instead of creepy or interesting. Larry Fessenden’s story of a guy who is late for his date on Halloween is worthy of a 5 minute nap. The least, though, is Robert Boocheck’s stylish looking, but narratively dull affair that doesn’t match some of the other efforts that entered the fan made contest short contest for the film from earlier this year.
Bumps in the road that are common in any anthology film, but this is one of the strongest anthologies to reach as far as this one attempts. Marvin Kren and his grim game of Russian roulette is a stylish and fun affair, while Juan Martinez Moreno and his gripping home invasion short will put viewers on the edge of their seats. Canada’s own Chris Nash and his story of a woman delaying the birth of child is so sick that it’s kind of amazing. Steven Kostanski (who came to cult movie fame with his no budget hit Manborg) has once again crafted a goofy, gory and hilarious world that we want to see more of.
For some Halloween viewing ABC’s of Death 2 more than surpasses the original.