2012’s horror anthology The ABCs of Death was, as expected, a mixed bag. 26 different directors were assigned a letter from the alphabet with the task of producing a short film that involved death in some way shape or form. Clocking in at over 2 hours, the ambitious project, while commendable, had too many misfires to be deemed a success. Due to its low budget, a sequel was inevitable, but surprisingly the new directors showcasing their work appear to have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors to create a thoroughly enjoyable follow up.
New directors, new ways to die. Three shorts in, and it’s clear that ABCs 2 is a much more focused picture. The titular letter include engaging narratives with their gore, with C is for Capital Punishment in particular being a standout segment from the whole collection. There’s much less emphasis on pure horror here too, and the film benefits greatly from it. F is for Falling is unashamedly dramatic, with minimal blood that draws maximum impact from the two characters interactions.
That’s not to say there’s no horror in here – Z is for Zygote will both satisfy and nauseate even the most hardened of horror hounds, while O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule) cleverly breathes life into the tired zombie sub-genre. Admittedly, a few segments are more convoluted than they should be, sometimes making it hard to understand what’s really happening and why, and there’s a distinct lack of originality in some cases (R is for Roulette being the biggest culprit) but overall the majority have something about them that entertains.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an ABCs anthology without some insanity, and it doesn’t disappoint. While there’s nothing quite as bizarre as F is for Fart from part 1, Japanese director and Visual Effects artist Soichi Umezawa amicably attempts to match it with his entry, Y is for Youth.
The ABCs of Death 2 does what the first set out to do, but ultimately failed: exhibit and promote the work of up and coming horror directors. There’s some real gems in here (good luck trying to forget S is for Split anytime soon) that balance out the not-so-great attempts (P is for P-P-P-SCARY! is so tonally different from everything else, it doesn’t feel like it belongs in this collection at all) to accomplish an all-round satisfying experience.