Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: The ABCs of Death

I am not a world-famous writer (yet), so I don't often get the chance to review movies when they're fresh. I usually have to wait around for the better part of a year until they land on Netflix or in Redbox so I can weigh in. Hopefully in the future my reviews will be more timely, but in the meantime, I'll be as entertaining and relevant as I can. So I'll begin with this: mother pusbucket, this movie was rough.

The poster was the most coherent bit.

Anthology films are hit or miss by design. It's just too much to hope that in a situation that promises more cooks than are necessary, we could get an evenly heated meal. Still, watching this flick was exhausting. There are 26 shorts spread throughout two hours that feels like three, and I remember really liking one or two, reasonably enjoying another 10 or so, and absolutely despising the remaining half. Since it'd be pointless to give you a full rundown on each vignette included, I'll just go in order and tell you why I did or didn't like it.

A is for Apocalypse

A little confusing, but the drama is solid and the ending appropriately somber. Thumbs up.

B is for Bigfoot

Bolstered by off-kilter camera angles and a likeable child protagonist, this is definitely one of the better shorts. Absolutely pointless nudity, though.

C is for Cycle

Creepy and atmospheric, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Leaves you with more questions than answers, but that's actually a plus in this case.

D is for Dogfight

Decent story and killer visuals.

E is for Exterminate

Ennui started setting in for me as I watched this short. Not bad, just boring.

F is for Fart

Frankly, this sketch should never have seen the light of day. Not scary, not funny, not sexy, and although clearly shocking for the sake of shock alone, I couldn't be offended because of how incredibly lazy the whole thing was. It's more offensive to consider that each of these filmmakers had about $5,000 to spend. This filmmaker spent all his money on hookers and blow, it seems, then remembered he had a movie to make. Terrible.

G is for Gravity

Great, another artsy POV piece. In all honesty, this isn't the worst short in the movie, not by a long shot, but it is meandering and seems to forget the theme of the experiment. Where's the death? I suppose it's symbolic. And I suppose pretentious is in.

H is for Hydro-electric Diffusion

Here's a filmmaker who knows how to have fun! Ridiculous premise, obscene humor, and whacked-out (not to mention impressive) visuals. Thomas Malling could have directed every short far as I'm concerned.

I is for Ingrown

In just a few whispered lines of dialogue, we get a chilling tale of violence and abuse. Kudos to this director for actually having something important to say with his time.

J is for Jidai-geki

Just... just insane. Very foreign in its presentation and concept, but I definitely laughed. quite a bit.

K is for Klutz

Kill me now. The first animated short in the film, and it involves a woman literally fighting to the death with her own feces. Disgusting, unfunny, stupid.

L is for Libido

Listen horror filmmakers, I get it. I know that there's a huge market for these controversial foreign horror films that push the envelope in regards to sex and violence, and you know what? I'm not interested. They're not for me. Please stop suggesting crap like this, so I might get back to horror that is actually scary, not just offensive and tasteless and better classified as torture porn. Thanks.

M is for Miscarriage

Most likely the worst short in the lineup, as there's no larger theme at work, no interesting visuals, no plot, no likable characters, and no promise, especially considering that I usually really like Ti West's work. It seems he just sucks at the short film format (see V/H/S). This one is just... sad, given its implications. That "mother" garnered no sympathy from me. She could have at least looked conflicted about it.

N is for Nuptials

No good can come of a pet bird who repeats what you say at an inopportune moment. Easily the funniest short in the film.

O is for Orgasm

Of course, we can't get out of this mess of a movie without a pointless, plotless, confusing "experimental" work. Psychedelic visuals and moaning women can't hide the fact this short is incredibly boring, and oh yeah, no one dies. Trash all the way.

P is for Pressure

Please take my advice: don't watch this one. It's depressing and nihilistic, without any redeeming value. Animal lovers will be pissed. I was.

Q is for Quack

Quite possibly the best short of the whole endeavor. Adam Wingard (director of the upcoming You're Next) and his collaborator Simon Barrett piss and moan about being assigned the hardest letter to make a story out of, and their frustration becomes the short itself. My favorite.

R is for Removed

Random and disjointed, but undeniably exciting. Removed reminded me of recent grindhouse flicks like Hobo With A Shotgun.

S is for Speed

Somewhat weighed down by its PSA of an ending, this short nevertheless features some great action and attractive B-movie babes.

T is for Toilet

The only other animated short, Toilet is rendered in an amateur stop-motion style that greatly enhances the comedy potential of the story. I laughed long and hard at the over-the-top violence in this one, and it was great to see a short that dealt with an actual childhood fear and featured multiple creative kills.

U is for Unearthed

Undeniably stylish piece in which a group of vampire hunters gets more than they bargained for. Set entirely within the vamp's POV, this short has an actual story, legitimate scares, and creepy visuals, plus a clear resolution. Good work, Ben Wheatley.

V is for Vagitus

Very interesting take on motherhood and infertility, with a decent amount of world-building in the first few scenes. The only sci-fi flavored short here too.

W is for WTF!

Why waste your time watching this short, when you could make much better use of it? For example, paying bills? Or doing laundry? Or just existing?

X is for XXL

Xenomorphic coeds have long been a horror staple. This short takes it a step further by showing the dangers of poor body image and eating disorders taken to the extreme. Disturbing and effective.

Y is for Youngbuck

You'd think, since we're near the end, that the last 24 directors have already thrown every tasteless idea they possibly could at the viewer. However, Jason Eisener hasn't had his turn yet. While competently shot, I just can't abide stories that feature or imply raping children (one of the many reasons I also hated Libido). Pass.

Z is for Zetsumetsu

Zanyism at its finest. This short is ridiculous, but not in a good way. The director took several American movies, WWII photos, Japanese anime, and sex and threw it in a blender. It's as dumb as it sounds. It's certainly not boring to look at, I'll give it that.

This was my reaction to the sequel news.

So, that's my take. If your curiosity is at a fever pitch, then go ahead, watch the whole thing. But if you want to save a lot of time and not hate yourself later, your horror alphabet should consist of A, B, C, D, H, I, J, N, Q, R, S, T, U, V, X. Most of 'em can be found on Youtube. Later fiends.

A quick word: if you haven't seen our tweets or Facebook posts yet, Honda Motor Company is donating 5 digital projectors to deserving drive-in theaters in America, and taking donations for others. Any theater not upgraded by the end of the year will be forced to close the box office for good. Please spread the word, donate as much as you are able, and help preserve a crucial part of the cultural cinematic experience. We'll be featuring a link to Project Drive-in at the end of every post until time is up. Thanks for checking it out, and thank you for reading!

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