Greetings Horror Addicts! I’m back with my review of episodes 3-5 in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, now showing on Netflix. These three are the strongest so far, but I have yet to watch the final two. Read on for the titillating details…
Episode 3: Autopsy
This episode plays with time a bit, just enough to make the viewer discombobulated, which is exactly where the director wants you. I don’t want to go too deeply into this one because the twist at the end made it my favorite so far. It’s gory, it’s gruesome (like the title indicates, you see pretty much the entire autopsy process), it’s heartbreaking, and it’s so good. From the night sky in the opening shots to the walls of the mine, to the relationship between the coroner and sheriff…every single shot, every frame, is crucial to the story, and the less you know going in, the better. F. Murray Abraham and Glynn Turman are the crotchety old professionals you want leading you on the journey. “This is one of those nightmare specials. The kind you never get to the bottom of.” Because that bottom is…well, you just watch it. The story was written by Michael Shea and adapted by David S. Goyer, who brought us The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and that same feeling of helplessness, as if no matter what course you take you’ll never win, is present in this story in droves. It was directed by David Prior.
Episode 4: The Outside
This segment examines one of my most prevalent nightmares: the pressure women put on themselves to be youthful and beautiful forever. I gave up the chase for youth and beauty years ago, but our heroine, Stacey, longs so desperately to fit in that she begins to be manipulated by a sinister force…or does she? Is it her own desire to be accepted by the attractive, popular women at work that leads her down a path toward self-destruction? Or is there truly a being tempting her from her very own TV screen. Actress Kate Micucci is stellar as misfit Stacey, and Martin Starr is the partner most folks would be grateful for. After watching this episode, you’ll want to turn off the TV and say “no, thank you” to that body lotion gift set your aunt tries to pawn off on you this holiday season. There is a particularly painful scene where poor Stacey attempts to fit in only to fail epically which makes us sympathetic to her plight, but that sympathy doesn’t last…The ending is manic, and the episode leaves me pondering misogyny, vanity, and the line between self-love and self-hate.
Episode 5: Pickman’s Model
This episode is based on a story from H.P. Lovecraft. It is visually stunning, deliciously tense, and it will have you gasping and yelling at your screen “no! No! Don’t do it! Don’t look!” An art student becomes disturbed by a classmate’s creations, and this sets off a chain of events that will eventually lead to destruction, loss, and madness. I was particularly excited to see Crispin Glover portraying yet another creepy character. I swear he never ages, and I’m not just referring to the aging in this particular story. Glover is truly gifted in roles such as this. But actor Ben Barnes as William Thurber has our utmost sympathy as he sees what others ignore. This episode also has me wondering who was responsible for the sets in this series because some of the houses are absolutely incredible, this one included!
I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the remainder of the episodes. I must add, as your musical guide here at Horror Addicts, that there is a soundtrack that has some particularly groovy tunes on it. Here’s a link for you to check out. Any favorites? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show as well as the musical choices. For now, Stay Tuned…