Movie Review – The ABCs of Death (2012)

Earlier this year a 58-year-old substitute teacher in Ohio was convicted on four felony accounts for disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. She played The ABCs of Death (2012) for five consecutive Spanish classes. It’s reasonable she began playing it the first period not knowing its contents, but to continue playing it and then showing it again and again? Apparently, when an administrator got wind of it and walked in during the last period she reached for the button to stop it and inadvertently paused the screen on a pair of bare breasts. I’m sure the students’ laughter was deafening.

This story is probably the best publicity imaginable for this type of film. After having now seen it myself, I can’t help but sympathize with the court.

The horror films I watch can generally be split into two categories: those that I watch with my wife, and those that I don’t. The reasons for the latter are normally as follows:

1. I think it might suck and I don’t want to over-saturate her with genre crap and ruin her good will.

2. It may contain a level of misogyny best not watched with the woman with whom I share a bed.

3. She’s not a fan of graphic torture or violence – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake was a theater experience the memory of which still makes her shudder.

The ABCs of Death, at one point or another, fulfills all of the above criteria. At its core it’s a simple but clever idea for an anthology horror film. They gave $5,000 and a letter of the alphabet to 26 different filmmakers from around the world, and those filmmakers created a short film based upon a word they chose which corresponded to their letter. The word isn’t revealed until after the film, leaving the viewer guessing as they watch.

As is to be expected with this type of project, the quality of filmmaking varies. There are some which I’m convinced the filmmaker must have $4,990 still in their bank account. Some are of a very hardcore nature, featuring disturbing subject matter and graphic representations. Some are art-house. Some are hilarious and clever. More than a few are about poop. Some are thought provoking and intense. While I strongly recommend some of these films, a sensitive viewer may want their finger primed on the fast-forward button.

Bottom line: understand what you’re getting into and, by the wisdom of Odin, do not watch this with anyone you hope to sleep with in the near future.

Grade: C+

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