HMZfilm attends ‘ABCs of Death’ exclusive multi-director Q+A screening + review
On 18th April 2013, I went to the exclusive premiere screening and Q+A session of ‘ABCs of Death’ at the Prince Charles Cinema in London’s Leicester Square. 4 directors of the upcoming horror film were in attendance: Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List), Lee Hardcastle (director who won a competition to have a segment in the film), Simon Rumley (Red White and Blue) and Jake West (Doghouse).
I managed to secure front row seats and asked a question to the panel after the screening of the film. My question was: Do you feel as if the film will resonate with a UK audience? The film has cultural nuances which are alien to the British way of thinking; do you have a specific target audience of the film? The response from Simon Rumley pointed towards the target audience being the younger male demographic, hardcore horror fans and those who are savvy with services such as VOD.
I was given a complimentary poster for asking a good question and met supremely talented director Ben Wheatley. He signed my poster and was kind enough to pose for a photograph. See my full review of the film below.
Certificate: 18 Running Time: 2hr 3mins
Plot: 26 directors. 26 ways to die.
26 directors spanning over 15 countries, the ABCs of Death is an upcoming horror anthology from some of the most exciting horror directors from across the globe. Each filmmaker was assigned a letter of the alphabet and told to create a word beginning with that particular letter. The word created formed the title and theme to their section in the film. The overarching rules were minimal and offered complete freedom to unleash chaos: the short had to be limited four to five minutes in length, had to feature a death and be crafted on a tight budget. Each director was paid $5,000 for taking part thus effectively became the budget for each short film. The involvement of the up and coming Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) and Adam Wingard (V/H/S) certainly would make horror enthusiasts sit up and take note.
With such a diverse array of contributors, anthologies can often suffer from lapses in quality and a distinct lack of cohesiveness. The ABCs of Death is certainly plagued by both. There is no doubting the film’s ambition, the concept in itself is innovative and it could have resulted in a modern cult classic. Sadly, it is one of the strangest, most uncomfortable cinematic experiences I have ever experienced (falling a close second behind Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist). Cultural influences permeate throughout ABCs of Death, contrasting styles and approaches make for an eclectic blend of entries. Some clearly intended to shock and appall with unnecessary gore, others displaying an unnerving jet black humour whilst the Japanese directors preferring sadomasochistic methods of execution. This is definitely not for the faint of heart and quite frankly isn’t recommended to anyone!
Despite its shortcomings, there are three shorts which stood out from the crowd. Ben Wheatley’s short (‘U is for Unearthed’) is the diamond in the rough, villagers hunt for a werewolf in a vivid first person sequence. Marcell Sarmiento’s segment (‘D is for Dogfight’) deserves credit for being shot in an intense, dramatic slow-motion sequence whereas Xavier Gen’s offering (X is for XXL) provides a harrowing take on the insidious effects of obesity.
It is a testament to the depravity of the human mind, when limits and restrictions are lifted, anarchy will reign. There is no question that there will be a target audience for this genre of horror, ABCs of Death has performed remarkably well in the USA on the VOD (video on demand) service. Whether this film will earn distribution in the UK multiplexes remains to be seen. It will traumatise and divide audiences and critics alike; some will praise its innovation, we will never see a project of such scale and vision again. I sincerely hope not. The ABCs of Death is a deeply disturbing piece of work.