A movie review involves a little-publicized phenomenon in film criticism that posits any review which calls a movie “disgusting,” “vile,” “pornographic” or “decadent” will actually send people racing to theaters to watch such fare.
So no such words for “The ABCs of Death” — even if deserved.
What this nadir of anthology films really is is a monumental turn-off. A turn-off for anyone who cares about movies, the avant-garde, surrealism, absurdity, humanity or even horror films as such. This collection of 26 films denies value to any of these things.
A letter of the alphabet is given to 26 directors from all over the world to extrapolate a morbid though brief short involving death from that letter.
Most of the directors are vets of horror or fantasy films such as Ti West, Kaare Andrews, Bruno Forzani and Adam Wingard.
What strikes you about all this — to the degree one is capable of thought after being numbed if not visually bludgeoned by the appalling awfulness — is the utter poverty of imagination on display.
And the redundancy. Only one director drew T, which of course gets used for “Toilet.” But two others show a similar obsession.
If I give you a few of the titles — “Exterminate,” “Fart,” “Miscarriage” — does that increase your desire to expose yourself to such a movie?
One short from Wingard and Simon Barrett has a touch of much-needed humor. This is a clever piece about the two struggling to come up with a film idea after having been damned with the letter “Q.”
What can you do with Q? They finally resort to a “snuff” film where they plan to shoot a duck — you know, for “Quack” — a plan that goes seriously awry.
But then Wingard and Barrett are veterans of the horror omnibus pic, having participated in one last year, “V/H/S,” which actually worked. (Well, some of it did at least.)
I’m very sorry I subjected myself to this miserable film, but can take some comfort in relieving readers of making the same mistake.
I never claim to entertain high standards or an ethos in the films under review here. But to borrow a line from one of my favorite Coen Brothers movies, “The Big Lebowski,” say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos.
Opens: March 8, 2013 (Magnet Releasing)
Production companies: Magnet Releasing in association with Drafthouse Films and Timpson Films
Cast: Ingrid Bolsø, Erik Aude, Dallaas Malloy, Kyra Zagorsky, Iván González, Fraser Corbett, Peter Pedrero, Darenzia
Directors: Kaare Andrews, Angela Bettis, Hélène Cattet, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Jason Eisener, Bruno Forzani, Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Xavier Gens, Lee Hardcastle, Noboru Iguchi, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Anders Morgenthaler, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Simon Rumley, Marcel Samiento, Jon Schnepp, Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Andrew Traucki, Nacho Vigalondo, Jake West, Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Yudai Yamaguchi
Screenwriters: Kaare Andrews, Simon Barrett, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Lee Hardcastle, Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Simon Rumley, Srdjan Spasojevic, Nacho Vigalondo, Dimitrije Vojnov, Ti West, Yudai Yamaguchi
Producers: Ant Timpson, Tim League
Executive producers: Tom Quinn
Directors of photography: Harris Charalambous, Manuel Dacosse, Magnus Flato, Ernesto Herrera, Karim Hassain, Nicolás Ibieta, Nemanja Jovanov, Antoine Marteau, Shu G. Momose, Yasutaka Nagano, Laurie Rose
Production designers: Nori Fukuda, Lorry O’Toole
Music: Phillip Blackford, Simon Boswell, Yashjiko Fukuda, Nobuhiko Morino, Kou Nakagawa, Julio Pillado, Johannes Ringen
Editors: Phillip Blackfor, Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Robert Hall, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Takanori Wichmann, Yadai Yamaguchi
No rating, 129 minutes