Curious Tales Certain to Work up a Fright
Cabinet of Curiosities, the most recent horror anthology, was released on Netflix on October 25th, 2022. This assortment of horror offers just the right dose of entertainment for a seasonal pick-me-up. In true iconic fashion, Guillermo del Torro orates his tales much like Hitchcock in the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Rod Serling with The Twilight Zone (1959). Each vignette opens with del Toro standing stoutly before a cabinet of wonders. Resolutely, he introduces viewers to the relics within and the ideal behind such a trove. However, the accurate measure of value is found buried within the stories. Those who are cautiously aware may discover the most earnest of treasures buried in the subtext beneath the monstrous elements.
There are eight episodes in this collection, each based on short stories presented by varied directors. This class of creative minds includes Guillermo Navarro, Vincenzo Natali, and David Prior. Each tale is given a chance to shine through an exploratory exhibition that expands the nightmare-scape, leaving the viewer to judge the breadth of skill and ability to terrify the watcher.
This selection includes stories that run the gamut from laughable to shocking. One will find stories about storage units, grave robbers, life-sapping alien life forms, macabre paintings, and unsavory alien encounters at a meeting of minds, a haunted house, a tale of metamorphosis, and a witch house.
Moral Cloaked in Horror
Guillermo del Toro introduces each story with the presentment of one artifact that connects to the narrative. Del Toro then sets audiences up for 60 minutes of unfolding horror. Of great interest is the moral underpinning that begs the watchers to beware of greed, unreleased guilt, unbridled curiosity, envy, and a plethora of vices that lead to rot, decay, and horrifying outcomes.
Viewers will find most of the works bear a fair amount of intrigue, each told in a manner that is sure to keep the audience’s attention. Some are horrifying accounts, while others provide enough chill to make the skin crawl. The tales which pack the greatest punch include Autopsy, directed by David Prior, and The Viewing, by Panos Cosmatos. The Autopsy’s appeal is in its magnetizing draw – creating a story with an incredible build-up and a well-executed climax. There is much to be said about the evil that lies at the vortex of this selection.
Equally enthralling is The Viewing. Of note is the cadence of this piece, which flows much like Autopsy. In this piece, the reveal is very entertaining. The creature is quite the monstrosity and bears recognition. On an even more pleasing note is the ending, which leaves the door ajar merely a crack to let the imagination run wild. All these elements together position this tale at the top of the list.
Something in the Middle
The stories that fall in the center include Lot 36 (Guillermo Navarro), Graveyard Rats (Vincenzo Natali), Pickman’s Model (Keith Thomas), and Dreams in the Witch House (Catherine Hardwicke). Each possesses definitive elements of horror, however, these tales are less palatable than the former. While the undertone of each is spooky, there is not enough to make one recoil. However, jump scares aren’t always needed to render a good scary story and these are indeed well-told tales without their existence. Each bears the mark of someone who has honed their craft.
The downside to Lot 36 and Graveyard Rats is their predictable story arcs and well-expected endings. On a positive note, viewers will still find some bite at these stories’ apex. Conversely, Pickman’s Model burns slower but it is not without its value. It is an interesting story that draws slight parallels to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Pickman’s Model is a good rendering, saving all its gusts for the last minutes of the frame. Finally, Dreams in a Witch House is a well-told story that makes for a good adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s work. But as it stands, it is a moderate tale with just enough to produce a chill.
Not Quite Top Tier
Those ranked at the lower end include The Outside and The Murmuring because they pale compared to the other stories. On a horror scale, they fall low on the spectrum but are worth the watch.
A Top Notch Cast
Another impressive component of this anthology is the cast. Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities includes well-known and exceptional talent with an outpouring that brings each story to life. Some may recognize Rupert Wint for his supporting role in Evil (2019). In this anthology, he is none other than Walter Gilman, a man of desperation in Dreams of a Witch House. Steve Agee of feature films Suicide Squad (2016) and Brightburn (2019) assumes the role of world-class author Guy Landon in The Viewing. Andrew Lincoln of Walking Dead (2010) fame is fantastic in his portrayal of Edgar Bradley in The Murmuring, and Glynn Turman, whose filmography includes Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) and Super 8 (2011), assumes the character of Sheriff Nate Craven in Autopsy. And those are simply a few names of recognition.
Del Toro crafts a beautiful selection of tales for the season. With this pick, one could easily fill their night with delightful frights. Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is a strong recommendation if one finds themselves in the mood for some variety.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (2022) Official Netflix Trailer
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