Review of The ABCs of Death at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival
Choose your favorite horror genre. Splatter horror. Torture horror. J-Horror. It’s all here in the fun, frightening and fast-paced The ABCs Of Death, the most ambitious horror anthology imaginable featuring 26 short films from 26 directors; each one based on a letter from the English alphabet.
Producers Ant Timpson and Tim League gather an impressive group of horror vets, up-and-comers and one prize-winning newcomer for a series of movies that get the balance right between laughter and screaming.
Horror vet Xavier Gens (Frontiers, Hitman) makes the most beautiful gore imaginable with his short XXL, about a heavyset Parisian woman who takes extreme measures in order to look as beautiful as the model she sees on the Metro billboards.
Ben Wheatley pays homage to the lush colors of classic Hammer horror movies with a gruesome trip to the cemetery.
Simon Rumley (Red, White & Blue) brings the anthology a much-appreciated jolt of realism with a solemn short based on third world sex tourism and female sex slaves.
Timpson and League curate Asian torture kink, toilet gags and the strangest fart tale ever. Not every short is completely successful, but that’s part of the fun of horror anthologies, especially one as substantial as The ABCs Of Death. Say you’re not a fan of letter ‘Q,’ well, that’s ok because ‘R’ starts up one minute later.
At a time when studio horror feels repetitive with one low-budget, found-footage exorcism tale piled atop one another, The ABCs Of Death arrives to remind fans just how rich and diverse the landscape of horror can be. In fact, there’s not a single found footage segment in the entire alphabet; proof that Timpson, League and their band of horror filmmakers set out to offer something new and different.
In the Transmedia era movies with VOD and multiple platforms becoming more important than ever, The ABCs of Death is also a powerful reminder of how much fun it is to sit in an auditorium and scream in the dark alongside complete strangers.
Watching The ABCs Of Death also encourages post-screening chats in the lobby where one can compare and contrast their favorite “letters” with other members of the audience.
Really, The ABCs Of Death brings audiences together.
In fact, thanks to The ABCs Of Death, experiencing a drop in one’s body temp by a degree or two turns out to be great fun and an argument for putting down one’s smartphone and heading to the movies.
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Cast: Erik Aude, Eva Llorach, Manon Miyake
Director: Adam Wingard, Ben Wheatley, Xavier Gens, Simon Rumley, among others
Producers: Magnet Releasing, Drafthouse Films, Timpson Films
Running time: 123 minutes
Release Date: Early 2013