Like its predecessor, ABCs of Death 2 has a simple conceit: There’s a short film about death for each letter of the alphabet, all by different filmmakers.
Naturally, some of these poison bonbons are better than others — which ones score with you depends on whether you have a taste for scares or grim humor, suspense or irony. Overall, it’s a strong sampler, with surprising variety. Not all the films are horror: Juan Martinez Moreno provides a home-invasion short that’s straight-up thriller, and Robert Boocheck’s stylish, slow-motion drug freak-out delivers a terrific punchline. (I’m avoiding the titles; guessing what each letter will mean is part of the fun.)
A few imaginative highlights: Chris Nash’s tale of a woman who delays her pregnancy until her fetus is in its tweens; Steven Kostanski’s ’80s toy commercial gone awry; and Hajime Ohata’s glimpse into the legal system after the zombie apocalypse is over. Some entries have no payoff, or go about their business in a too-obvious manner.
And there are a few that would have benefited from appearing in an anthology more varied in subject matter; death being a foregone conclusion robs some stories of their punch. But there’s no denying this mixed bag contains some really choice severed heads.