‘The ABCs Of Death 2.5’ showcases the next generation of horror masters

ABCs of Death

The ABCs Of Death 2.5 is a highlight reel for the next generation of horror filmmakers and a fitting continuation—that is not considered a full-fledged sequel—to one of the genre’s most bizarre and endlessly entertaining anthology franchises.

Since the film was created using beloved submissions for a contest that invited directors to submit a three-minute short about death involving the letter “M” for The ABCs of Death 2, The ABCs of Death 2.5 covers a wide range of cinematic styles and horror sub-genres. It is absolute insanity served with constant variation in a blurring, blood-soaked, 85-minute sprint that nearly numbs the mind with brutality in the best possible way. To attempt to review such a film as a whole when so many people helped make it what it is would be selling the filmmakers short, so instead I’ve chosen to comment on all 26 entries, in order, instead:

M is for Magnetic Tape (Tim Rutherford and Cody Kennedy)

ABCs of Death

A video store clerk must defend his store against ninjas and a mustachio’d evildoer. The resulting VHS-inspired battle is a glorious display of ’80s nostalgia and lo-fi creativity with a fitting retro soundtrack. Who knew VHS tapes could be so deadly?

M is for Maieusiophobia (Christopher Younes)

Claymation is always present in this series, and Christopher Younes’ addition to the ABCs Of Death is riddled with emotion and stomach-turning moments you won’t soon forget. I learned a long time ago that any entry to this series that uses a word you have to google is usually one that is going to give you nightmares, and this is no different.

M is for Mailbox (Dante Vescio and Rodrigo Gasparini)

Before they made The Fostering (which I don’t believe is out in the US yet), Dante Vescio and Rodrigo Gasparini made this gorgeous short about a trick-or-treater with a thirst for blood who find themselves in the wrong household. The ’70s inspiration is apparent, but they still find a way to make it their own. Great use of classic music cues, too.

M is for Make Believe (Summer Johnson)

Nebraskan filmmaker Summer Johnson offers a twisted fairy tale in a somewhat literal sense with this short, and I like the way she thinks. There are no thrills or gag moments, but there is something about the events that unfold that keeps you glued to your seat. I only wish it looked a bit better.

M is for Malnutrition (Peter Czikrai)

ABCs of Death

I would pay to watch a feature-length effort from Peter Czikrai right now with no knowledge of the plot going in. I like the way this man makes movies, and even something as well-tread as a zombie survival scenario feels fresh when seen through his unique vision. Fans of The Twilight Zone will get an added kick out of the ending.

M is for Manure (Michael Schwartz)

Lighting and practical effects are really great in this farm-set thriller, which finds a way to make violence against women the third or fourth most disgusting thing on screen. Schwartz’s imagination is great, but the story suffers a bit due to the three-minute constraints of the competition. In a world with a five-minute cut I bet this would be one of the best shorts in this entire film.

M is for Marauder (Steve Daniels)

This plays like an art school horror film you might see in an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon spoofing Jon Waters’ Cry Baby. I like it for the sound effects, but it’s not going to be for everyone—and in a film like this that is really saying something.

M is for Mariachi (Eric Pennycoff)

Essentially the perfect short. Do not fuck with small business owners.

M is for Marriage (Todd E. Freeman)

Freeman’s got a very clear style that would play well on the big screen. This is one of the few high-concept psychological thrillers to join the ABCs franchise, and it feels like part of something much bigger that I immediately need to see made. Cronenberg is a clear inspiration, but I get a few subtle hints of Fincher in there as well.

M is for Martyr (Jeff Stewart)

Beautiful. Disturbing, but beautiful.

M is for Matador (Gigi Saul Guerrero)

ABCs of Death

Guerrero has a vision, and it’s one entirely her own. The setup felt a bit overcooked, but the rest was great. I laughed, I screamed, and I got a bit queasy.

M is for Meat (Wolfgang Matzl)

Claymation round 2, and this time it’s the stuff nightmares are made of: Meat people. I mean that in the most literal sense possible, but also the most poetic. Great animation.

M is for Mermaid (Ama Lea)

Humor has been rare in 2.5 thus far, but Ama Lea’s Mermaid is funny from its opening frame. This is aided greatly by the fact it looks like a Bud Light commercial gone horribly wrong, but the story works as well and the final punchline is legitimately laugh out loud funny.

M is for Merry Christmas (Joe and Lloyd Stas)

Premise works, but the follow through is where this short loses its way. This is the hardest I’ve worked to like a short so far, and even my best efforts can’t make me find much to praise here. I will, however, say that the vocal mix is way too loud. I have seen other shorts (https://vimeo.com/holomax) by the Stas brothers that are much better, so please don’t let this one deter you from seeking out their other, higher quality productions.

M is for Mess (Carlos Faria)

One of, if not the most disgustingly original and undeniably well made shorts I have ever seen. This is going to haunt me the way Z is for Zygote from The ABCs of Death 2 did, and that is the best thing I could tell a filmmaker. Ew. Ew times a million. Ew.

M is for Messiah (Nicholas Humphries)

ABCs of Death

If you’re thinking the name of this short refers to Jesus, think again. Nicholas Humphries’ take on the word Messiah begins with a sacrifice gone awry and only gets weirder from there. The finished product feels more like a proof of concept than a proper short, but it sure is fun while it lasts.

M is for Mind Meld (BC Glassberg)

I need a little more story to fully fall for this short, but I like the idea.

M is for Miracle (Álvaro Núñez)

Oh, the things you can do with no budget and a world of imagination. Miracle makes something out of nothing in a very real way, offering a different take on horror that may take a few views to fully appreciate.

M is for Mobile (Barış Erdoğan)

Pitch black comedy as good as anything you’d find on the feature length VOD market today, with an eye for cinematography that could work in multiplexes world wide, Mobile is a delight. It doesn’t need any more or any less, it’s just right.

M is for Mom (Carles Torrens)

Cute, albeit undercooked, this isn’t a short as much as it is a scene at the beginning (or end) of a movie that appears far more interesting than this one moment. Looks great, but it’s got nothing to offer beyond a rather imaginative final frame, which is a moment that has nothing to do with the story itself.

M is for Moonstruck (Travis Betz)

ABCs of Death

Made with paper and hand-drawn art, Moonstruck is a sinister bit of construction paper romance that is hard to deny. The amount of work that had to go into creating this tiny short is probably akin to the effort made on certain features. I never thought I would be moved to the brink of tears by the ABCs of Death, but I suppose there is a first time for everything.

M is for Mormon Missionaries (Peter Podgursky)

I don’t know if the likeness to the cast of Book Of Mormon was intentional or not, but it helps to make this short from Peter Podgursky something to remember. It’s hard to believe the idea of Mormons, or someone pretending to be a Mormon, taking people hostage in their own homes hasn’t been done to death already. Even if it had, the twist here would be enough to set Mormon Missionaries apart. The execution could be better, but the idea is bold and the camera work is good enough to keep you watching.

M is for Mother (Ryan Bosworth)

The look and feel of this short is perfect, and the practical effects are nothing to scoff at. I am a firm believer that there are nowhere near enough movies about spiders, but at least Ryan Bosworth has provided this delight to keep us entertained. I want a feature made out of this short, ASAP.

M is for Muff (Mia’Kate Russell)

Just as dirty as it is disgusting. Well done.

M is for Munging (Jason Koch & Clint Kelly)

I will not be held responsible for people who are forever broken because they googled the world ‘munging.’ I will also not be held responsible if the FBI later shows up at your door. If Mess did not leave you scarred for life, this will. This is your only warning.

M is for Mutant (Stuart Simpson)

You might think you know where this one is going, but you’re wrong. A seemingly average post-apocalyptic situation collides with Natural Born Killers in everyday suburbia with wildly graphic results. Mutant ends the film with a bang in more ways than one.