The ABCs Of Death

The results are hilarious, troubling, juvenile and shocking, but never scary.

Released in cinemas 26th April 2013.

26 letters, 26 ways to die. That’s the premise of this two-hour collection of shorts from the most promising directors in the horror genre, who - as a result - expose their warped psyches. The results are hilarious, troubling, juvenile and shocking, but there’s never enough time for things to get scary.

It may boast an international flavour, with productions from 15 countries, but naturally the gender bias is skewed, as this is strictly an all-boys club, with only two female directors: Angela Bettis’ E is for Exterminate (about the squashing of a spider) and co-director Héléne Cattet’s O is for Orgasm (speaks for itself).

The more well-known names in horror produce some interesting shorts. Ben Wheatley’s U is for Unearthed is a take on the vampire mythos that appears to have been filmed at the same time as Kill List. Srdjan Spasojevic, director of the notorious A Serbian Film, produces a surprisingly restrained piece in R is for Removed, compared to the shockers that surround it. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s Q is for Quack is a nicely meta short that relieves after Simon Rumley’s nasty and miserable P is for Pressure - cat lovers be warned. Xavier Gens’ X is for XXL is a highlight, with the director of Hitman and The Divide showing more compassion, imagination and intelligence in a couple of minutes than in his entire filmography.

With every director reportedly receiving the same budget, the films’ production values vary wildly. Marcel Sarmiento’s D is for Dogfight is gorgeous, while Kaare Andrews’s V is for Vagitus is an ambitious mini sci-fi. The Japanese shorts are predictably extreme; Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Z is for Zetsumetsu is a demented, orgiastic recreation of WWII, and Noboru Iguchi’s F is for Fart is utterly, embarrassingly ridiculous. The prize for shock value in terms of sex and violence goes to Timo Tjahjanto for L is for Libido. The biggest disappointment comes from House of the Devil and Innkeepers director Ti West, who should hang his head in shame for the lazy, cheap and offensive M is for Miscarriage.

Toilet humour appears to be popular, and the best entry is ‘T is for Toilet’ by ace claymation YouTube hero Lee Hardcastle, who deservedly won a competition for the 26th place. An absolute must for horror fans, The ABCs of Death is a chaotic anthology full of hits and misses, but always fascinating.

Rating: 7/10