I don’t think I have ever gone into a film with such low expectations in my life. A few months ago I reviewed “The ABCs of Death” (click here for the review) one of the few films in my life that I have had to turn off midway through because I hated it that much. Even to the point where I said I wouldn’t watch the sequel (although with not a lot else to review at the minute, I decided to take the chance).
For those unfamiliar with the ABCS of Death concept, basically it’s a film made up of 26 different short films, all revolving around the topic of death. 26 random directors were each given a letter of the alphabet and have to come up with a short film to first that letter. Just incase you can’t be bothered to read the earlier review, here are a few examples of the short films contained within the original and pretty much exactly what they are about. If you don’t know why I found this film vile and pointless then you might as well leave now.
- F – Fart – A girl has fallen in love with her teacher and upon realising they are going to die, she requests that the teacher farts in her face. Yes, again, you’ve just read that correctly.
- K – Klutz – A woman goes to toilet but is soon followed around the bathroom by her faeces. Yet again, you’ve just read that correctly.
- L – Libido – A man awakes to find himself involved in a battle against another man, with the objective being to ejaculate before the other, otherwise you’re killed.
And that’s about as far as I got with the first one, so to say that I went into this one with low expectations is one of the understatements of the century. I write all this before I watch the film and quite frankly I would consider it a better sequel if I get past L, that’s my only criteria for considering it better than the first.
Plot (if indeed you can call it that)
Please note that this will tell you exactly what happens in each short film, including how they end.
A – Amateur, by E.L Katz – An assassination attempt is seen through two scenarios, one in which the assassin is exceptionally efficient, and an alternative reality where the same man is shown to be useless and ends up dying in the ventilation shaft.
B – Badger, by Julian Barratt – In Nottinghamshire a TV crew filming a documentary about badgers. The star starts ranting and raving when the cameraman proves incompetent. He is soon dragged into the badger set and thrown out in two halves.
C – Capital Punishment, by Julian Gilbey – A man is found guilty of the murder of a teenage girl. Despite his pleas of innocence, the locals refuse to call the police and take the law into their own hands. However, it is soon revealed that the girl is still alive via a news broadcast, but it’s too late to save the man’s life as he is decapitated with an axe.
D – Deloused, by Robert Morgan – A man awakens to find himself strapped to a table by three hideously deformed men that are covered in insects. They inject him with an unknown substance that kills him and he is subsequently eaten by the insect. Meanwhile, a copy of him comes out of his ear and that copy kills the three deformed men. It’s hard to explain. This is done in the stop motion method with plasticine figures.
E – Equilibrium, by Alejandro Brugues – Two men are marooned on a desert island when they notice a woman has washed ashore. Despite initially being terrified of the men, she soon finds herself at home with them and they all create a help message. One of the two men becomes jealous when the other develops a relationship with the woman and two eventually fight over her. Just when the ending seems obvious, the man who fell in love with the woman throws a coconut at her head, killing her.
F – Falling, by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado – An Israeli soldier has become trapped in a tree when her parachute veers off course and she is left dangling. She is soon approached by a man riding a donkey. The man is a soldier for the other side and threatens to kill her but she tries sweet talking him out of it. She appears to succeed as he cuts her down, but upon landed her leg breaks. She tries to hobble away before turning and seeing the man collapse dead out of the tree. Knowing that the fall couldn’t kill him as it’s only a few feet off of the ground, she notices a killing squad.
G – Grandad, by Jim Hosking – A man is sharing a glass of cognac with his grandfather and soon mocks his way of life, such as having no TV. When he goes to bed, he realistcs that his grandfather has been sharing his bed for a long time. His grandfather is dressed exactly like him and threatens him with something for opening insects. He stabs the man in the neck and launches into a tirade about how his grandson has been calling him a wanker, that despite his lack of a penis.
H – Head Games, by Bill Plympton -Hand-drawn animation that starts with a couple kissing in a rather exaggerated fashion. The man bites the lip of the woman and then the two take it in turns to attack each other with otherworldly abilities. Both end up with massive holes in their faces.
I – Invincible, by Erik Matti – A woman’s grown children try desperately to kill her, but no matter what they try she won’t die. She soon reveals that the main item in their inheritance in her mouth and tries to goad them into taking it. One of her sons douses her in petrol and she is soon set alight. After she finally appears to be dead, the children discuss how to divide her estate, but despite being burnt to a crisp, the woman is still very much alive before being decapitated. The head remains alive and shoots something into the mouth of one of her children before finally passing.
J – Jesus, by Dennison Ramalho – A photographer is stalking a homosexual couple and takes photos of them. He takes these to the father of one of the two men. He hires priests to exercise what he believes is a demon that is causing his son’s homosexuality. The man sees the men as what they really are, two demons and he is then subjected to a stigmata and is then electrocuted, and just as the men are about to brand him, they get killed by the other man in the relationship, who himself turns out to be a demon.
K – Knell, by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper – Whilst in the middle of painting her nails, a woman notices a large black ball shapeshifting in the sky before completely disappearing. In a nearby apartment building everyone is killing each other before all of the survivors stand at their windows, glaring at the woman. She hides away from the window before hearing knocking at the door. She goes to investigate and a black ooze seeps through the keyhole and towards her. Blood soon starts dripping down her legs and towards the ooze.
L – Legacy, by Lancelot Imasuen – In what appears to be an African country, a man is chosen for scarified before he is saved at the last second by the leader of the execution squad. The leader quickly kills a raccoon and spreads the blood on the weapon that was going to be used to killed the man. Suddenly, a monster attacks the woman who ordered the sacrifice and calcifies her within seconds. The monster goes on a killing rampage.
M – Masticate, by Robert Boocheck – A man runs down the street in just his underwear whilst urinating at the same time. He knocks over a woman before slamming a woman’s head into the pavement. He tackles another man to the ground and bites his necks as a stunned cop looks on. The cop, despite being bewildered, shoots the man in the head, killing him. It is then revealed that 30 minutes earlier, the man had taken an unknown drug.
N – Nexus, by Larry Fessenden – A soon to be married couple record sexual movies for each other before the male gets dressed for a Halloween party. Another woman is seen in a taxi, a taxi driven by a man that is doing a crossword at the same time. The first man decides to ride his bike with a Frankenstein’s monster mask on. Just as his fiancee is giving candy to a kid in a skeleton costume, the man is run over by the taxi, who is driving through a red light and the bike subsequently flies into the head of the child. Both are killed.
O – Ochlocacy, by Hajime Ohata – In a Japanese court run by zombies, a woman is accused of murdering thousands of zombies, something which is outlawed as the zombies classify themselves as having a disease that means they’re alive, but with the appearance of being dead. The key witness is a zombified head, but they managed to bring it back to life with a serum and it accused the woman of killing him before finally dying once and for all. In an attempt to escape, she is easily caught and is sentenced to death after her zombified daughter testifies against her. She is electrocuted to the point of death.
P – P-P-P-P Scary, by Todd Rohal – Three burglers with mental disabilities and speech impediments find themselves terrified about something or other (it’s hard to understand with the way they are speaking) befor ethey encounters an Irishman. He dances gleefully before one of the men sneezes. He then keeps blowing out their matches and killing them off one by one until only the one that sneezes is left completely on his own, with only puddles of goo that used to be his friends remaining. The dancing man soon returns and finishes the job.
Q – Questionnaire, by Rodney Ascher – A man is taking an IQ test and is doing very well. He masters every single question but it turns out to be his doom as doctors soon remove his brain and it is implanted into the head of a killer gorilla.
R – Roulette, by Marvin Kren – A game of Russian roulette between a woman and two men starts with the woman firing a blank. It goes to the turn of a man with a bow tie. His shot proves not to have the bullet contained within that chamber. The other man also draws a blank and the woman realises that there is not a 1 in 3 chance that she will be killed. The man without the bow tie kisses her passionately but she again has an empty chamber, guaranteeing that she will survive the game. Bow tie man blanks, meaning that only non-bow tie man has the last remaining shot and has a 100% chance of dying. He resignedly picks up the gun, stands up but shoots the woman instead. Someone soon starts breaking in.
S – Split, by Juan Martinez Moreno – A man calls a woman and apologises about being stuck in work meetings. The woman’s doorbell rings and with it only being 6:36am, she is puzzled. Even when she goes down to the door and asks who it is, the ringing continues. The person soon smashes the window in the door with a hammer. She runs in panic and the husband calls the police. The woman is soon discovered in her hiding place and the man is helpless as he hears his wife being stalked and beating throughout the house and eventually killed. Soon a baby can be heard crying and the killer’s attention moves to it. The husband begs for mercy, even though the killer can’t hear him. The killer picks up the phone and it turns out that the husband was actually in a homosexual relationship with the killer’s husband.
T – Torture Porn, by Jen and Sylvia Soska – A woman is auditioning for a film when the casting director sticks his fingers down her throat. Upon engaging the gag reflex, the woman’s eyes change to a pale blue. When stripping for the casting director, he grabs her breasts before one of the crew notices something crawling up her leg. She suddenly turns demonic sends out several cords that strange and maim the crew to death,
U – Utopia, by Vincenzo Natali – In a futuristic business centre, a somewhat below average man catches everyone’s attention. When he trips over a pole, a man uses an app to determine that the man is indeed not normal and a pod suddenly appears. After the man refuses to get in, it sends out a harpoon and forces him to enter the pod, all before setting him on fire. Upon his death, the crowd claps in approval of what just happened before going back to their everyday lives.
V – Vacation, by Jerome Sable – Whilst on holiday, Kirk is having a video call chat with his girlfriend, Amber (you can’t see her on the screen). His friend Dylan soon interupts and soon locks the original man outside, whilst showing Amber around the flat and revealing them both to be drug addicts and that they were both sleeping with the locals prostitutes. Kirk eventually gets back into the apartment after he desperately begs Amber for forgiveness, Dylan is killed by one of the two prostitutes. Kirk is then stabbed and falls off of the balcony, all with Amber still on the call.
W – Wish, by Steven Kostanski – An advert for a toy becomes too real as it sends two children into the world of Prince Casio, their hero. He quickly runs off as his army is easily killed by an alien race. The children are soon captured and taken to the castle. One of them is taken to the ledaer of the alien race and he is quickly killed. with his burnt corpse then thrown at the other boy. The other boy is saved by an elderly man that keeps calling him Princess. The depart for an unknown destination.
X – Xylophone, by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo – A woman is annoyed by her daughter’s non-stop and uncoordinated playing on a xylophone. The girl’s parents soon return to find that the woman has killed the girl and turned her ribs into a human xylophone. The girl’s parents look on stunned as the woman weeps.
Y – Youth, by Soichi Umezawa – A girl reflects onthe poor relationship with her brother. in a fantasy her mother turns into a dog and attacks him. The man who killed the job is slowly tortured by a variety of different things, including having accident shot into his face, having his guitar forced from his stomach and out of his mouth. Soon after, she soon imagines her mother being slowly killed when a giant penis implants her face with sperm and eggs grow on her body, eventually exploding. A giant hand then grows out of the girl’s vagina, sticking up it’s middle finger.
Z – Zygote, by Chris Nash – A man leaves his heavily pregnant wife with enough food to last them. Thirteen years later the woman has never actually given birth to the child. The child exists as a fully grown child in the belly of the woman, fully conscious of what’s happening to it and the situation. The child then refuses to stay in the mother anymore and tries to force it’s way out, breaking it’s mother’s neck in the process. The child then empties the mother’s body of every organ and wears it’s mother like a costume. The husband returns and forces sex to again try and have a baby.
So how far did you get?
Firstly, I hope you enjoyed that epic plot summary. I think this is already the longest review I’ve ever written before I even start this section. Normally I would try and make this the biggest section of the review, but I don’t think that this is particularly feasible in this situation.
Anyway, I got all of the way through and the main reason for that is that this film is far, far, far, far better than the original, although that’s not really saying a lot. There are many reasons why it works on so many more levels and I think that the main one for me is that none of them are immature and purile. There’s no girl getting killed by another woman’s fart and being sucked up, there’s no ridiculous competitions between men having to masturbate faster than the other in order to survive.
You get the more realistic feel of things pretty quickly, with Badger and Capital Punishment proving to be, in my opinion, the two stand out sections of the film. Badger is one of the simplest stories in the film and it uses it’s liimited time, with the actor playing Peter Bolland, the TV host, excelling in the scene and the ending it
Whilst B and C are by far the best two, that proves to be a bit of a problem as the film seriously starts to lose a lot of momentum. By the time we got to Granddad (which is one of the worst stories in the film), I was actually kind of bored. Soon after the novelty of watching people down wears off and it out of the remaining 19, I probably only liked two, maybe there.
One that I certainly wasn’t keen on was “P-P-P-P Scary”, which was just diabolically bad. It’s not well acted, it’s not scary, the deaths are kind of crap, the lisping of all three characters really grates on you and if anything, it seems to be under the impression that being random is the same as being funny. For me this is comfortably the worst and least interesting, quickly followed by (in no particular order other than alphabetically) Deloused, Granddad, Legacy, Ochlocacy, Wish and Zygote.
Whilst I was bored by the time it got to Granddad, I think the whole film started taking a downturn as early Deloused, which made pretty much no sense whatsoever and just seemed to be being random for being random’s sake.
I suppose that one of the main pluses of the film is that with no story lasting more than five or so minutes, you’re not stuck with a story that you don’t like for long, but in many ways this also proves to be a problem. With such a small amount of time it is hard to really develop characters and make you care about them. In horror films you rarely remember the first character that dies and the reason for throat is that they aren’t focuses on.
Whilst the list of stories that I didn’t like, or at least disliked enough to mention them above, is relatively short, the main issue for me is that the list of ones that I did actually like is exceptionally short and for at least 3/4s of the stories, I wasn’t enjoying what I was watching and whilst it’s a better sequel, I think that is more down to the inadequacies of the first film.
A much better attempt that the first ABCs of Death, but that’s not hard to achieve given the exceptionally poor quality of the original. ABCs 2 is more grounded and realistic than the first and is more enjoyable.
However, after a promising start with two excellent stories in the first three letters, ABCs 2 struggles then struggles with too many stories that are just dull, pointless, or in the case of “P-P-P-P-P Scary”, just so bad that it’s hard to put into words.
If you’re going to watch it, you’re probably best just watching up until the end of C and then going to do something more productive with your time.