Compilation films are rare, and most likely because they are difficult to pull off in a satisfying manner. Usually, there are only a handful of directors involved, which helps keep the creative vision from veering too broadly, but even in those more controlled situations the experience can feel disjointed. Increase the number of directors to 26 and the final production is basically chaos. Fortunately, within chaos can be found moments of perfection, and that’s exactly what ABCs of Death 2 offers.
Like its predecessor, ABCs of Death 2 features one short film related to death for each letter in the English alphabet. No two films have been helmed by the same director, and films come from all over the world, offering different styles and presentations. Films are no longer than a few minutes each. With 26 stories, it’s pointless to try and give a synopsis of each one. Just know that they vary widely in themes, but mostly fall in the horror genre.
Looking at ABCs of Death 2 as a whole, it appears that there was no sense of quality control in the compilation process – perhaps QA was never a consideration – because the level of craftsmanship amongst the films runs the gamut from undeniably remarkable to just plain awful. The very best of the bunch are complete films highly compressed down into a few minutes, but have excellent casts, engaging scripts, solid direction and a fitting score. These are few and far between. The very worst are nonsensical or have terrible special effects or just seem unfinished. These are also rare. The rest of the films reside somewhere in the middle, usually missing a key element that would elevate the segment to the better end of the spectrum. Fortunately, the films are short enough that lackluster segments don’t end up stinging for too long.
Given the disparate films, it’s difficult to say that ABCs of Death 2 is actually meant for general audiences, because many of the films can be very abstruse while at least one film is so straightforward and agenda-driven that it qualifies for propaganda. As such, the audience that would enjoy this ABCs of Death 2 the most are people who study film or are filmmakers themselves. Anyone outside of that demographic will probably leave dissatisfied.
Knowing that, there is an ironic undercurrent of freedom that flows through ABCs of Death 2 as it did in the previous film. It must be completely liberating to be tasked with putting together a film without the pressure of making it a commercial success, because there are other films within the same body of work that can be responsible for that. The issue with that thinking is that there just aren’t enough conventional segments to do the heavy lifting and elevate the film into mass appeal territory. The saving grace, however, is that whether audiences are composed of film buffs or average filmgoers, they will definitely see something fresh and unique. And for most of the segments in ABCs of Death 2, that will be enough.