When you put the name Guillermo del Toro on something, it invites certain expectations. Whether he’s making superhero movies or gothic romances, the director’s work all share a few sentiments: a love for outcasts, incredible attention to detail, a seamless marriage of high culture and pop, and plenty of really cool monsters. That all of this remains true in Cabinet of curiosityHorror Anthology on Netflix. But it’s also so much more: while del Toro is in the title, he’s enlisted a carefully curated group of directors, writers, and actors to bring each story to life. The result is a collection of spooky stories spanning an incredible range of tones and patterns.
Each episode begins the same way: del Toro introduces the evening’s story with a short monologue as he pulls strange objects from a closet full of curiosities. It’s kind of like a less awkward version of the opening from HBO spawn series. The series itself is a collection of eight standalone episodes, each about an hour long, all on the edge of horror. Some of them are straightforward ghost stories; Others veer into science fiction. But they are all terrifying in their own way. There’s also an interesting release rhythm – two episodes will be released daily for the rest of the week – giving everything a feel of a Halloween event.
What is most impressive about the anthology is the huge variety on offer. Even when episodes revolve around seemingly similar topics, they are not the same. For example, there are two types of Lovecraft mods: “Dreams in the Witch House” from twilight Director Catherine Hardwicke and “The Beckman Model” from bonfire Director Keith Thomas. The tones are completely different. The first is closer to a traditional ghost story, in which a man (Rupert Grint) does his best to find his sister who died at an early age. She also has a monster that doesn’t seem out of place Pan’s maze (and a suitable dark development). On the flip side, Pickman’s Model truly reflects the regression into the madness so common in Lovecraft’s work, with the painter (Crispin Glover) creating works so terrifying that seeing them thrusts people into perilous darkness.
Likewise, there are two shorts that both mix science fiction and horror but take the mix in strange and contrasting directions. “The Watch” stars Peter Weller as a mysterious billionaire who invites a group of experts from diverse backgrounds to his compound to get their opinions on…something. For much of the story, he runs it mandy Director Panos Cosmatos, you are simply enjoying the luxury as anticipation grows towards the big reveal. It’s the best of ’80s style: a heavy soundtrack, a sumptuous conversation pit, and a lush lens glow with mountains of cocaine. Most importantly, the construction is totally worth it, with a truly exotic reveal that perfectly fits the ambiance. By contrast, “The Autopsy” is a murder mystery with potential extraterrestrial elements reminiscent of Stephen King.
The range of creative voices that del Toro has amassed is truly impressive, and leads to some unique short films. In “The Outside” – which is the only horror story I can think of that revolves around lotion – director Girl walking home alone at night Anna Lily Amirpour is collaborating with one of the writers in the back New cherry flavor (Haley Z. Boston) To adapt Emily Carroll’s story. It’s unpleasant body horror at its best.
There are some great performances here that raise the bar for episodes too: David Hewlett as a man frantically trying to keep his head above water in Graveyard Rats, Kate Micucci as a heartbreaking social outcast in The Outside, and Crispin Glover as a very creepy take on a haunted painter in “Beckman Model.”
Since each episode is basically a short story, almost all of them leave you needing more – which can be frustrating in some cases. I definitely need to know what happens after the credits start showing in Watch. Other episodes end abruptly. But for the most part, this extra ambiguity benefits the elect, and creates gaps to fill yourself in. In an age filled with over-explained cinematic universes, it’s refreshing to have a show that trusts its viewers so much.
So yes, Cabinet of curiosity It’s definitely something del Toro would do. But it also extends beyond those horizons with an array of very different horror scenes. That’s what I imagine walking into Bleak House would be like: a glimpse into del Toro’s mind through the work that inspires him.
Guillermo del Toro’s intriguing cabinet Streaming on Netflix October 25th.
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