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article imageReview: ‘The ABCs of Death 2’ improves on the original stunt Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 2, 2014 in Entertainment
‘The ABCs of Death 2’ brings together the provocative, funny and shocking stories of 26 eclectic new directors with productions spanning from Nigeria to the UK to Brazil.
While bringing together a group of international directors for an anthology is not a new concept in film, The ABCs of Death still garnered considerable attention. The scale of the project drew significant interest as it proposed to weave together the works of 26 filmmakers into a single feature-length horror movie. The result was a resounding success and a sequel was guaranteed. The ABCs of Death 2 unites a new set of storytellers to bring audiences fresh short films of unexpected demise.
Each director is assigned a letter of the alphabet for which they must choose a word and create a short film relating how someone dies in relation to that word. One can imagine certain letters require a little more ingenuity than others. Though that's not to say those with more common letters select the most obvious or easiest answers — example “B is for badger” by Julian Barratt.
The opening credit sequence is a stunning start to the film. Thumbing through the pages of an old pop-up style storybook, the old-fashioned figures are decapitated, severed in half and used as a tree swing to the tune of an eerie song. The cleverly animated introduction sets the tone for the movie, which surpasses the first — even visually, the movie has graduated from bloody alphabet blocks to a full-fledged book. Where the initial set of directors saw the film as a gimmick and an opportunity to shock audiences into remembering their segments, many of the new shorts display a dark sense of humour that is more entertaining and will have a wider appeal.
The inaugural three letters show a strong start to the picture. Cheap Thrills director E.L. Katz’s “A is for Amateur” launches the movie with the amusing story of a wannabe assassin who encounters a series of setbacks on his first job. Barratt’s chapter is also a comical picture about the egotistical host of a nature documentary. And Julian Gilbey’s (A Lonely Place to Die) “C is for Capital Punishment” the chilling depiction of a kangaroo court.
A scene from  Capital Punishment  in  The ABCs of Death
A scene from "Capital Punishment" in 'The ABCs of Death'
Video Services Corp.
Juan of the Dead’s Alejandro Brugués extends his previously established sense of humour with “E is for Equilibrium,” which features two men content to be stranded on an island until a third party disrupts their happiness. Hajime Ohata’s ironic take on the zombie genre shows humans being tried for killing the undead in “O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule).”
Dennison Ramalho’s “J is for Jesus” is a disturbing portrayal of gay exorcism with an unexpectedly romantic ending. On the other hand, “S is for Split” by Juan Martinez Moreno (Game of Werewolves) starts off with the romance before diving into a home invasion thriller with a twist.
At least half the directors involved have been attached to a notable genre film released in that last three years. Other noteworthy filmmakers include Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves); French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Inside, Livid); American animator Bill Plympton; twins Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary); Marvin Kren (The Station); Astron-6’s Steven Kostanski; and Vincenzo Natali (Cube).
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