Directed by Rodney Ascher, Julian Barratt, Robert Boocheck, Alejandro Brugués, Kristina Buozyte, Alexandre Bustillo, Larry Fessenden, Julian Gilbey, Spencer Hawken, Jim Hosking, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, E.L. Katz, Aharon Keshales, Steven Kostanski, Marvin Kren, Juan Martínez Moreno, Erik Matti, Julien Maury, Robert Morgan, Chris Nash, Vincenzo Natali, Hajime Ohata, Navot Papushado, Bill Plympton, Dennison Ramalho, Todd Rohal, Jerome Sable, Bruno Samper, Shion Sono, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska. 2014 125 minutes Not Rated (equivalent of NC-17 for graphic bloody violence, gore and sexual content).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, September 30, 2014.
2013's "The ABCs of Death" was hit-or-miss in the extreme, a horror anthology consisting of 26 short films from 26 directors, each one representing a different letter of the alphabet. The formula remains the same but the already-chancy quality goes straight down the tubes in the appallingly bad "ABCs of Death 2." The opening credits, emulating a child's macabre pop-up book, are playful yet creepy. The final tale, Chris Nash's "Z is for Zygote," stars Delphine Roussel in a crafty, skin-crawling fable about a woman who remains pregnant for thirteen years as her child continues to grow inside her. As for the almost two hours in between these bookends, let's just say the sole bright spot is that each inept interlude is only a few minutes long. With each new short, there is the renewed chance that it will turn things around, but even the few with promiseKristina Buozyte's alien-invasion thriller "K is for Knell; " Larry Fessenden's Halloween-themed "N is for Nexus," and Jerome Sable's brutal infidelity terror trip "V is for Vacation"either don't suitably pay off, are too obvious, or leave an acrid taste in one's mouth.
It is stunning to think that two bakers' dozen worth of filmmakers (many of them established talents such as Rodney Ascher of 2012's "Room 237", Vincenzo Natali of 2010's "Splice," and Jen and Sylvia Soska of 2013's "American Mary") were given free rein to do whatever they wanted, and yet not a single one achieves anything approaching genuine fright. Moronic, juvenile, and rampantly sexist to an outright distasteful degree, the bulk of the stories feature women who are demoralized, cast as hookers and/or depicted as evil, vengeful villains. A few of the shorts are so unspeakably incompetent (paging Alejandro Brugués's "E is for Equilibrium" and Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen's "L is for Legacy") the mind boggles how they are even seeing the light of day. Audiences seeking a chill up their spine or even a few laughs will still be waiting by the time "ABCs of Death 2" comes to its merciful close. This cavalcade of sophomoric, mean-spirited schlock is an embarrassment, putting to shame all of the exciting, limitless possibilities the horror genre has to offer.