I did the same kind of rating system that I did for the first ABCs of Death to make it a little easier for me - a star for ones that I really liked, a half-star for ones that I sorta liked but didn't really wow me, and a sad face mostly for ones that I was too stupid to get. So if I mention stars and half-stars and sad faces, that's what I'm talking about.
"A is for Amateur"
Directed by E.L. Katz
Not a bad way to start things out. I have not seen Katz's other directorial effort Cheap Thrills, but I have heard many good things about it. And I totally believe it after seeing Amateur. There's a really good flashy montage with funky music at the beginning to set up the story of a hitman going after his next mark - and then things go very wrong. Apparently those air ducts that people crawl around in are not always as clean as they are in the movies... Wonderfully funny twist at the end of this one.
"B is for Badger"
Directed by Julian Barratt
Things are starting off good. There are a couple attempts at found footage with ABCs of Death 2 and Badger is the first one. It is a very funny and simple story of a camera crew shooting a segment for their nature show called "Toland's World" about the supposed death of a badger colony or whatever because of a new power plant built nearby. The host is a bit of a douche so you'll like what happens here and hopefully you'll chuckle a bit, too.
"C is for Capital Punishment"
Directed by Julian Gilbey
Another simple story here, but one that really packs a punch with its intent and message. There's a missing girl in an obviously close-knit village and some poor guy has been accused and convicted by his peers. This segment has some great, horrific special effects and I really liked its comment not only on the death penalty, but also on the idea of the court of public opinion with the scene at the beginning.
"D is for Deloused"
Directed by Robert Morgan
The first of only two animated segments in the whole film and the first segment to get a sad-face notation from me. The animation is odd, as is the story that it tries to tell, so it was hard for me to really get a grasp on it. I'm not saying it was bad at all, just that it didn't really do anything for me.
"E is for Equilibrium"
Directed by Alejandro Brugues
A different location for a horror film, Equilibrium concerns two men that have apparently been stranded on a island for some time, when a woman suddenly washes ashore to join them. The story is very tongue-in-cheek but also just the slightest bit insulting so I can't totally give it my approval. I did love the filming technique they used, though, with the constantly moving camera to make it look like it was all mostly one shot but there are really several scenes and transitions within it.
"F is for Falling"
Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
I thought the guys who gave me the two amazing films Rabies and Big Bad Wolves would do the same here. Sadly, though, their segment Falling left me a little perplexed and not sure how to feel about it just yet. It involves a female soldier stuck in a parachute in a tree and the guy who comes to rescue her. Actually the quick series of unfortunate events reminded me of Rabies a little. However, the segment didn't have near enough punch that I know these guys are capable of giving us.
"G is for Grandad"
Directed by Jim Hosking
Oh my. What was this? Very, very odd little tale of a grown man living with his dear old Grandad - and then some weird shit happens. I really don't know what else to say about this one! I'm scared to learn where the idea for this one came from, that's for sure. Still, it does look good and has a nice setting and look for the actors, who are quite committed to their roles and really sell... whatever the hell this is supposed to be about.
"H is for Head Games"
Directed by Bill Plympton
The other animated segment of the anthology, and another one that I couldn't find myself getting behind. The animation is like pencil sketchings and has a male head and a female head starting out kissing, and then their bodies start to do weird stuff to each other with lots of exaggerated sound effects in the background. When the title comes up at the end of Head Games, it does make a bit more sense what they were trying to do but not enough for me to really love it.
"I is for Invincible"
Directed by Erik Matti
Haha, very nice shift from the last couple of segments! Invincible has a group of four people, supposedly relatives, who are torturing and trying to kill a bound old woman for her inheritance, but she just doesn't seem to want to die. There's a great sense of humor here and again, some very cool effects. The setting was also unique as well. They could have shot this anywhere, really, but instead chose a place where the set dressing was elaborate and plush and the colors were great.
"J is for Jesus"
Directed by Dennison Ramalho
There are few segments in this sequel anthology that actually have a really great story and I think this is definitely one of them. A gay man is tortured by two people apparently trying to exorcise the gay out of him when he is saved by a very special person. Good bloody scenes, and great makeup on one of the characters later on, and an important message. Nice work.
"K is for Knell"
Directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper
Ugh, another one that is technically really good, but that I really didn't get! A "knell" is like a death knell, when a bell rings all solemnly meaning impending death or something. The knell in the story is this weird, unexplainable thing that appears in the sky and how its effects come after one woman in her apartment. Again, the segment looks good and is really well shot, but I needed a bit more information and/or explanation to help me out a bit.
"L is for Legacy"
Directed by Lancelot Imasuen
The weakest segment of the bunch so far. The story is okay - some guys in a tribal village are about sacrifice some other guy but stop and then a big hairy monster walks around and kills people - but the execution is not as impressive as most of the other segments, especially the gore effects. The acting is also quite weak and lazy. However, I do really hope that the director's name is actually Lancelot.
"M is for Masticate"
Directed by Robert Boocheck
A quick, fun segment that just shows a fat, sweaty, hairy man running down the streets (in slow motion) attacking people. The final shot explains it all with one line of dialogue and it was actually pretty funny, so I have to at least half-like it for that.
I also really hope that the director's name is actually Boocheck.
I also really hope that the director's name is actually Boocheck.
"N is for Nexus"
Directed by Larry Fessenden
I'm only familiar with four of the directors this time around, and Larry Fessenden is definitely one of those. His contribution is Nexus, a cute but then tragic story about two people meeting up in the city for Halloween (dressed as Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein), and one person who ruins it all. Fessenden found a wonderful way to actually work the title and the letter of his segment into the story, which kinda makes it all the more sad and all the more meaningful.
"O is for Ochlocracy (Mob Rule)"
Directed by Hajime Ohata
The real "wow" segment of ABCs of Death 2 doesn't come until the very end, but Ochlocracy is one of those gems that comes pretty close. The story they came up with here is absolutely fantastic, one of the ones that I would love to see get made into a full-length feature. In the short, a woman is being tried in a court of zombies for the murders that she committed during the zombie outbreak (shortly after the outbreak, a cure was found and the zombies are sorta alive and sentient now). Excellent idea for turning the zombie story on its head and coming up with something really interesting and unique.
"P is for P-P-P-P Scary!"
Directed by Todd Rohal
Now that doesn't start with the letter P, like, at all. I'm calling shenanigans. Again, I didn't really get this segment at all. The style is sort of like The Three Stooges or something similar but the story just makes no sense. Definitely more comedy than horror here, and even then, more just weird goofball stuff that wasn't even funny than actual comedy. Nah, didn't like it.
"Q is for Questionnaire"
Directed by Rodney Ascher
"R is for Roulette"
Directed by Marvin Kren
"S is for Split"
Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno
"T is for Torture Porn"
Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska
"U is for Utopia"
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
"V is for Vacation"
Directed by Jerome Sable
"W is for Wish"
Directed by Steven Kostanski
"X is for Xylophone"
Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo
"Y is for Youth"
Directed by Soichi Umezawa
"Z is for Zygote"
Directed by Chris Nash
Much like its predecessor, The ABCs of Death 2 has about the same outcome you would expect from an anthology with so many different segments in it - some good, some bad. Unlike its predecessor, though, there were not nearly as many shorts that could easily be dismissed as just plain bad. Most of the segments this time around had something going for them with either style or substance, and even if they weren't exactly to my personal taste, I can still appreciate almost all of them. Seven segments really stood out for me in different ways, and those were Amateur, Badger, Ochlocracy, Split, Utopia, Xylophone, and Zygote.
Also something I noticed about ABCs of Death 2 was that it was overall much less wild and crazy as the first one, and that is definitely a good thing. There is nothing like F is for Fart this time, but there is also nothing like L is for Libido, either (even though Xylophone and Zygote come very close). The whole film is much more watered down and tame, and therefore, I think, just that much better.
Stay for the credits on this movie, too! There's an update for ABCs of Death 3 and a quite odd appearance from Laurence R. Harvey.
Hopefully I can get another nasty comment like I did on my review of the first film. :)