When I did my Worst of 2013 list, I had ABCs of Death at #10 due to its length and how unpolished it is. I am not taking back what I said about it as a whole. But…I can now objectively say it might not have been fair to give it an overall rating. Think about it: 26 different directors, plots, countries, and styles. Even if God Himself were to edit it, there’s no way to smoothly transition between such varying ideas. I realize now there’s no accurate way to give a project like this a general rating, so…I’m going back to it. I’m going to re-watch ABCs of Death, and I’m going to rate each segment on its own.
I feel the need to do this just to give credit (however little) to each director. Most of them completely missed the mark, but I can still respect the fact they tried and do have some sort of talent. On top of that, I will be doing the same for ABCs of Death 2. No, I will not be putting all 52 total segments in one review because I actually have a life. It will be in bite sized bits, but still chock full of the demented sarcasm you all seem to love. Give me about a week or two, and ABCs of Death segments A-E will be up.
I’m not going to start with how “disappointing” the horror genre is becoming (as much as I would love to). I just think it’s a bit unfortunate we’ve been reduced to remakes or sequels that are loosely tied to the first film. So when I heard The Taking of Deborah Logan was actually gaining a decent fan base, I was definitely skeptical. An original script, decent acting, AND camerawork that doesn’t induce seizures? I couldn’t believe it. You all know how I feel about “found footage”, so I wasn’t exactly rushing to see this. But thanks to Netflix and it being too butt ass cold to do anything, I decided to give it a shot. So here’s my burning question: Does it really deserve the attention it’s getting?
Yes…and no. I can’t deny this is damn near perfect for a low budget film. The effects aren’t cartoony or absurd, the acting is pretty good all things considered, and overall it did a great job of giving me the willies. The only thing is it just seems to peter out and die at the end. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it does. The movie does an amazing job of spending the first half building the tension and scares, and it doesn’t go for cheap jump scares. I have to give kudos to Gavin Heffernan and Adam Robitel. These guys have a firm grasp of what it means to create the atmosphere, but I think they still need some work when it comes to tying everything together and not relying on tried and true methods to do so.
The last 15 minutes are nothing but your standard (spoiler!) possession tropes that add nothing new to the genre. Also, the end doesn’t make much sense. It’s so choppy that I have to wonder just how much of it ended up on the cutting room floor. Overall, I say it still earns 3/5. It’s creepy, not corny, and it’s still a great effort. I just wished the end had reflected the positive qualities that were laid out in the beginning. I still say give it a watch if you want to be creeped out, but keep in mind you will be underwhelmed at the end.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say this movie was made by someone that has an unhealthy contempt for technology. Why do I say that? Because anyone with half a brain can debunk every plot-point. We start with a whiny graduate student who is doing her thesis on the poor man’s Chatroulette/Skype hybrid. Why anyone would willing sift through hours of random penises is beyond me, but that’s not the point. We quickly discover that the internet is nothing but lonely people with way too much time on their hands. We have our own version of Meat Spin (DO NOT GOOGLE THAT), jump scares that have a better budget than the whole movie, a random British couple, and sick bastards that think faking a suicide is funny. I have no choice but to go into detail because that’s all that happens for the first 30-45 minutes.
You may have noticed I’ve said nothing about our “heroine” Liz (Melanie Papalia). As much as I want to give the actress credit, I just can’t. For example, when she witnesses the death that starts the chain of events that lead to her being tormented, she has this expression:
I don’t know about you, but if I ever see someone get turned into a human Pez dispenser on Skype, I’d probably scream and fall out of my chair. But…this is all she could muster after seeing a very real murder. She also has this weird dynamic between her “boyfriend” Damien (David Schlachtenhaufen), and a guy who has reached the 7th circle of the friend zone named Max (Adam Shapiro). This is one of those movies where everyone is just horrible, but there’s no reason for it. You don’t even want anyone to die. You just want it to end.
As soon as I started praying for this to just stop, I got my wish. As it turns out, it’s some real-life version of 4-Chan that gets paid to torture unsuspecting Den users. Once they’re completely broken and forever scarred, they’re killed. We then cut to a man who is paying to watch this and had other videos lined up, only to be interrupted by his young son. The end. Credits roll. Did this seem short? Too bad, because I just described how things played out in the movie, and in half the time. So what can we learn from all of this? Beware of Skype? The internet is filled with snuff film lovers? Make your thesis about something people actually give a crap about? I have no idea. This gets a 1/5. Some of the effects are interesting, but it’s so clunky that you just give up on it as it progresses. Couple that with bad actors, no real development, and a severe lack of understanding about the internet, and you have the reasons why its Netflix rating dropped to 2 stars in the course of an hour.