ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
125 min., not rated (but equivalent to NC-17).
On paper, 2013's "The ABCs of Death" sounded like a horrific, disturbing nightmare come true for diehard horror aficionados, a chance to avert one's eyes in shock, fright, and disgust for two hours' worth as long as the alphabet. Disappointingly, the A-to-Z results were the hit-and-miss equivalent to slim pickings out of a student film festival, making slackers out of auspicious filmmakers (e.g. Ti West) who have done better and didn't seem to be trying. Now, there is fresh blood with its new list of 26 global directors (including Rodney Ascher of "Room 237," Vincenzo Natali of "Splice" and "Haunter," Navot Papushado of "Big Bad Wolves" and Jerome Sable of "Stage Fright," just to name a very few) who, from what they churn out here, do not work as well under a tight shooting schedule and budget. The wide-open possibilities of such a project would seem like a hole-in-one, with each of them picking a chosen word that begins with their assigned letter and revolves around death and then being given complete artistic freedom. Like its predecessor, "ABCs of Death 2" surely has its standouts, but the ratio of misses to hits is even greater. There are so many bad ones that the bearable, even occasionally impressive, shorts might be forgotten.
The playfully macabre opening credits sequence out of a ghastly childrens' pop-up book—school children jumproping and playing tug-of-war slice another in half—might be the high point, as what follows is a 125-minute mixed bag that tries tapping into every deathly situation. Kicking off the parade of repulsive shocks and sick yuks is E.L. Katz's ("Cheap Thrills") "A is for Amateur" about a hitman getting more than he bargains for in a pesky crawlspace. It's quickly paced, unpredictable, and reasonably entertaining for starters. To read the rest of the review, go to Diabolique Magazine.
Grade: D +