anthology

The ABCs of Death

Editors’ note: With The ABCs of Death arriving in theaters this week, here is a re-run of our own Luke Mullen’s review of the film from Fantastic Fest, originally published on September 30, 2012. The brainchild of Ant Timpson and Tim League, The ABCs of Death sounds like a great idea: let’s bring some of the smartest up-and-coming genre directors together to create 26 separate short films, each based on a letter from the alphabet. If it sounds ambitious, that’s an understatement. Wrangling that many short films from so many different filmmakers in so many different countries couldn’t have been easy, but things finally came together and buzz was pretty high when we finally sat down to see it at Fantastic Fest. It’s hard to describe the experience of watching 26 different shorts in the space of two hours. There’s not really a sense of tone since each short is so different, but there does at least seem to be some sense of pacing due to the grouping of stories. Things start off well with three Spanish-language shorts from Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, and Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. Then Marcel Sarmiento‘s “D is for Dogfight” impresses in a big way and expectations are high. From there, it’s a rollercoaster ride with shorts ranging from pretty good to forgettable, culminating in Ti West‘s awful “M is for Miscarriage.” The second half features far more good than bad, but “Z” is so incredibly awful that it almost sours the whole experience.

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A school principle explores his dark side, a young girl seeks to lose her virginity, a group of children plan a macabre tribute to the town’s scariest myth, a hermit sits bitterly in his home, and a couple debate the merits of the rules of Halloween. How are these stories connected? Are they connected? Who the hell is that creepy little bastard in the burlap sack?

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Anthology films are always a mixed bag. It’s impossible to find one where each and every story shines, and invariably you’re stuck with sections of the films that you just don’t care about. The new film Tokyo! is hoping to change that perception.

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