Combustible Celluloid
 
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Written by: n/a
Directed by: Kaare Andrews, Angela Bettis, Hlne Cattet, Ernesto Daz Espinoza, Jason Eisener, Bruno Forzani, Adrin Garca Bogliano, Xavier Gens, Lee Hardcastle, Noboru Iguchi, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Anders Morgenthaler, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Simon Rumley, Marcel Sarmiento, Jon Schnepp, Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Andrew Traucki, Nacho Vigalondo, Jake West, Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Yudai Yamaguchi
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 130
Date: 03/08/2013
IMDB

The ABCs of Death (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Dead Letter Office

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The ABCs of Death captured my attention because I love horror anthology films, and because I believe that Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) is the foremost new horror filmmaker alive today. I was disappointed on both counts. In truth, this movie is more like a parade of overtly shocking and disturbing images, done almost as a one-upsmanship contest rather than any actual need to say anything.

Twenty-six genre directors from all over the world were assigned a letter of the alphabet, asked to choose a word beginning with that letter, and then make a short film -- just a few minutes in length -- about "death." West drew "M," chose "Miscarriage," and gives us a truly horrible little yarn that just made me want to crawl into a hole. I'm not sure what else to say about it, except that it does contain some of his innovative camerawork. The only other director I was familiar with was Nacho Vigalondo, who made the excellent Timecrimes a few years ago. Coincidentally, his short, the letter "A," is probably the best in the set. (It's sad to see the best short first and then watch the rest of the movie slide steadily and irrevocably downhill.)

Several of the shorts come from Japan, and these are some of the flat-out weirdest things you'll ever see. Not weird in a good way, either. Many of the shorts try for trick, O. Henry-style endings and fail. Many of them settle for rude, bathroom-type humor (sometimes literally in a bathroom). In truth, some of the shorts are probably worth discussing rather than dismissing, perhaps attempting to understand why the imagery strikes in such an offensive way, but I'll leave that for viewers with more of a yen for the repulsive.

Magnet's Blu-ray release -- improbably -- comes with director commentary tracks for all the shorts. The directors simply jump in and talk for a couple of minutes over their own short. It also includes several featurettes.

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