ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

ABCSofDeath2I had a real fondness for “ABC’s of Death,” mainly because it was so bold and creative, even when it was very polarizing. Sure there were junky segments like “M is for Miscarriage,” but it was a fun experiment, overall. I’d love to think of “ABC’s of Death 2” as a home run, but it’s a poor follow-up. Much of the segments have something of a self-importance this time around, and the more compelling shorts are few and far between. The tonal inconsistencies are just about gone this time around, but that also leaves the film feeling oddly monotonous. I found myself counting the minutes rather than really enjoying the segments and experience, which is sad considering there’s prime talent behind this project.

As I mentioned, the terrible segments just outweighed the good, and took down what should have been a great follow up. Some of the worst segments of the bunch include “C is for Capital Punishment,” an abrupt and rushed thriller about a man accused of murder in a small town, “Deloused” which seemed like random imagery and nonsense in a stop motion aesthetic, and “Equilibrium” which felt downright misogynistic. Not to mention it went on way too long just to get to the punch line. “Invincible” from Erik Matti is downright irritating, while “Youth” and “Zygote” felt like sanctimonious social commentary without much of a point. I’m all for horror with substance, but horror that’s actually menacing and leading in to something.

Among my favorites though was Evan Katz’s hilarious and sick “Amateur,” the utterly hilarious “Badger” from Julian Barrett, and the creepy approach to tentacle porn “Torture Porn” from the Soska Sisters. Vincenzo Natali provides audiences with a creepy short entitled “Utopia” about the perfect society, while “Knell” is a creepy silent short about the end of the world and one girl witnessing it all. “Masticate” from Robert Boocheck is a funny short with a great surprise ending, while “Falling” is a neat tale about irony and war time. I also shockingly loved Steven Kostanski’s “Wish” about two boys warped in to their favorite universe in the vein of “He-Man” and find out how utterly barbaric it is.

My two favorite segments that made “The ABC’s of Death 2” so worth the money spent is Juan Martinez Moreno’s excellent “Split,” about a young woman who is stalked by a hammer wielding maniac while her husband listens over the phone. The surprise ending is just genius. “Vacation” is pure dark comedy and madness personified as director Jerome Sable sets on a young man talking to his girlfriend over a phone cam during a vacation with his best friend. When his friend yanks the phone, he shows how the mundane getaway is anything but. I really wish I’d have appreciated “The ABC’s of Death 2” as much as the original. While there are a slew of talented filmmakers on board for the follow-up, the segments just lack variety and innovation resulting in a humdrum sequel.