The ABC’s of Death only pulled in a mere $21,832 at the domestic office, but perhaps it accumulated enough via VOD and DVD sales to warrant a sequel, because reportedly The ABCs of Death 2 is in the works.
The horror anthology runs with the tagline, “26 directors, 26 ways to die.” With the first films, a group of 25 directors were summoned, each was given a letter of the alphabet and then tasked with creating a short film about death inspired by that letter. The result was a string of shorts including “D is for Dogfight,” “F is for Fart,” “M is for Miscarriage,” and more twisted titles to get your head spinning.
But of course, 25 directors doesn’t equal 26 shorts. Rather than hand the last letter off to an established filmmaker, Drafthouse Films held a 26th director competition. For the letter T, the company put the call out for budding genre directors to upload their own short to a website, after which Lee Hardcastle’s “T is for Toilet” was crowned the winner and featured in the final film.
As enjoyable as The ABCs of Death is, we’re talking 26 shorts here; it’s just impossible to compile 26 quality pieces. In the end, I only gave a thumbs up to 12 of the 26, which should mean the review isn’t in the film’s favor, but some of the 12 are so good, it makes the lackluster 14 well worth sitting through. And even then, some of those 14 aren’t all that bad. It often comes down to subject matter preferences more than anything. The larger problem of the film is retention: holding 26 shorts in memory can make anyone feel like Leonard Shelby from Memento.
The ABCs of Death left more than enough room for improvement; V/H/S was in a similar position back in 2012 and wound up with a sequel that recognized the first film’s missteps (and improved on them tenfold), so the odds of The ABCs of Death achieving the same is quite likely - especially with the sequel’s stellar lineup of directors.
According to Deadline,we’ve got Bill Plympton on the roster, who’s been nominated for two animated short Oscars; The Last Circus director Alex De La Iglesias; and other names like Erik Matti, Lancelot Imasuen, Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper, Sion Sono, Marcus Dunstan (The Collection), Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary), Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves), Julian Gilbery, Jerome Sable, and Robert Morgan.
Of the bunch, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what Room 237-director Rodney Ascher has to offer, as well as Splice’s Vincenzo Natali. Larry Fessenden is also a worthy mention as is E.L. Katz, whose directorial debut, Cheap Thrills, recently hit it big with SXSW audiences (including yours truly). And then there’s Dennison Ramalho, a Brazilian filmmaker you likely aren’t familiar with now, but will be soon, thanks to his downright wicked 2010 short film, “Ninjas.”
Odds are we won’t hear all that much about the individual segments until they’re finalized and promotional material starts to stream in, but producers Ant Timpson and Tim League are holding another competition to fill the 26th director slot. If the submissions are anything like last year’s “T is for Toilet,” they’ll undoubtedly hold you over until more of ABCs of Death 2 is ready to be unveiled.
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