“This is my anti-death penalty film,” director Julian Gilbey explains to Shock Till You Drop of his hard-hitting ABCs of Death 2 segment. Where some filmmakers took the opportunity to participated in the anthology horror film and craft a visceral experience that perhaps favors style of substance, Gilbey used his allotment of time that offers food for thought and goes for the throat.
It also features one of the nastiest on-screen beheadings we’ve seen in quite some time.
ABCs of Death 2 – currently on VOD – features 26 filmmakers musing on the nature of death, using the alphabet as their inspiration. Gilbey, who previously helmed A Lonely Place to Die, took on “C is for Capital Punishment.”
Shock Till You Drop: What is the process like getting on board an anthology like this?
Gilbey: They said at the beginning, send us a letter you may or may not like. For me, I thought it was better to come up with an idea first and then I can turn the title into it. Because they do that all of the time on these things, some entries you can spin into another letter.
Shock: And where did this idea that struck you come from?
Gilbey: I was down on holiday in Cornwall and I’m always interested in the history of the UK. I thought about doing a mid-century story about a burning on a beach. Even if I am ambitious though, the $5k budget wasn’t going to cover that. Then I thought – what if it was a 15th century-like court taking place in a pub today. A pub set in the back country and give it a Straw Dogs look and have the story focus on this anger surrounding a missing girl. Another thing I was influenced by is executioner Jack Ketch. There was one case in which it took seven blows with an axe to kill someone. Ketch had to take a pair of scissors to cut the sinew. People wanted a clean swipe with the axe, but the execution was horrific. So that combined with people taking revenge into their own hands was how it came together.
Shock: You cram a lot in to your story!
Gilbey: That was the challenge, wasn’t it? It’s supposed to be three minutes. I cut mine down to 3:47 and I told them I couldn’t go any tighter. I guess you know you’ve gotten it down to as tight as it can go when there’s no fat left to trim. We shot the whole thing in three day and the car crash we featured added to the drama.
Shock: And obviously you had a great time working on a short form story?
Gilbey: It’s incredibly freeing where you can go off and do this kind of stuff. It’s a breath of fresh air and it inspired me work on other material. I asked for a lot of favors to do this. I think a lot of people pulled favors on the budgets they gave us [laughs]. I studied film at university and I loved doing shorts where we all went off to shoot something then came back with something to show and discussed what we did.