26 letters of the alphabet, 26 surprising ways to die. The idea behind the upcoming anthology „The ABCs of Death“ by Drafthouse Films is simple, smart and caught the attention of some of the most interesting younger horror directors around, among them Banjong Pisanthanakun („Shutter“), Jorge Grau („We are what we are“), Jason Eisner („Hobo with a Shotgun“), Andrew Traucki („Black Water“) and Ti West („House of the Devil“). The letter „T“ though is the subject of a competition that is open for everyone to participate in and vote for. Almost 90 shorts were submitted so far, but only one received instant online praise by no other than veteran filmmaker John Landis and got more than 450 votes on the first day. „T is for Tantrum” was written by Ryan Levin and directed by Jack Perez, successfully reteaming again after their award-winning slasher comedy „Some Guy who kills People”.
Just like their feature, „Tantrum” delivers a wicked balance of dark humor and cartoonish gore against the background of an obviously dysfunctional family. One may think this could be too much for a barely 4-minute short but its due to Levin’s pinpoint writing skills and a brilliant cast (Paul F. Tompkins, Janie Haddad Tompkins and the very convincing child actor Griffin Cleveland) that the unexpected richness of the characters basically serves the punchline effect the first time around while it unfolds more deeply on repeated viewing. You easily get an idea what is wrong with this family and why the little boy throws a tantrum of historic proportions.
Perez is well-used to tight budgets and schedules and thus knows how to work as effectively as possible. Best known for his paycheck duty „Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”, he managed to make „Some Guy who kills People” look at least twice the money that was actually spent and does the same here. With only $4000 funded via Kickstarter (campaign still running by the time this is being written), the short easily conveys the impression of being a teaser excerpt from a feature or hilariuos tv show.
The story deals with typical childhood fears, fatally enhanced (if not caused) by shameless media coverage and parents who have no idea of what better not to discuss in front of their kids. There is talking between the parents (with dad being the one in charge) while all we get to hear from the little boy are wailing sounds of worries and insecurity. Left alone with his fears by a mom who has no idea what is going on with him and a dad who obviously doesn’t care very much, he panics and decides to sleep with a kitchen knife within reach. Which is not a good idea.
John Landis, also executive producer on „Some Guy”, liked the film so much that he commented on it right away: „Cute … unique … short … well played … well screened … well scripted … & not being boringly predictable – that is what a movie should be.” Joining the praise is actor Barry Bostwick, another alumnus from the feature, stating that the short easily „beats the crap out of the competition … anybody can slash for cash but you guys add something unique … wit and intelligence”.
Recommended LINKS for further reading:
- Official Homepage: The ABCs of Death
- Ryan Levin and Jack Perez might join The ABCs of Death
- Ryan Levin talks Some Guy who kills People
- Judson Scott and Erica Harrell join The ABCs of Death
- Jenn Rose and Erica Harrell join The ABCs of Death