The ABC’s of Death was an intriguing novelty but only a so-so film. Giving 26 genre directors from around the world carte blanche for a collection of 2-5 minute short films, each about death and each tied to a different letter of the alphabet, produced…uneven results, to say the least. While all omnibus films suffer from some bit of hit or miss quality, ABC’s was more miss than hit; an exhausting two hours plus of cheeky morbidity that ranged from good to lackluster to outright awful. There were a handful of decent shorts, but they were overwhelmed by other shorts that were either uninspired goofs, painfully bizarre doodles or acts of outright, insulting laziness. (I’m looking at you, Ti West’s “M is for Miscarriage.”) Ultimately, the film was an interesting experiment that failed to cohere into a totally worthwhile whole.
So now we’re back with another round of bite-sized madness, but is The ABC’s of Death 2 just more of the same ol’ mediocrity? Thank goodness, no. While ABC’s of Death 2 still suffers from some of the same shortcomings of its predecessor—the onslaught of mini-movies with only a loose thematic connection and no consistency of tone still feels like a festival shorts program rather than a cohesive feature film—it seems as though the kinks have been worked out, as this is a more solid and even film than before.
Sure, there are still some clunkers, but the lows aren’t anywhere near as low as the worst films of ABC’s Uno; in fact, the worst stories here would be middle of the pack entrants in the former — forgettable, but not painful. And, in fact, there are fewer of them, as a lot of the 26 new directors here step up their game to show their earlier compatriots how it is done. The limpest of the 26 films here are simply uninspired or are just sketches that don’t go much anywhere, but aren’t outright obnoxious as the first film’s “F is for Fart” or as sloppy and lazy as “M is for Miscarriage.”
Much of the fun of a movie like The ABC’s is figuring out which director made which film, and with the first one, it became quite an easy guessing game, as the directors largely stayed within their own style for each film. Not here. Here, the directors are happy to use the short form to challenge themselves, and I almost always guessed wrong which film was made by which director (and the only two I did guess correctly were due to their obvious cultural heritage.) I am not going to spoil who made what here; I will leave that for you to find out. And with so many selections, which is your favorite is bound to be subjective. Regardless, l can say that ABC’s of Death 2 is easily the movie the first one should have been.
The ABC’s of Death 2: 4 stars out of 5