Curiouser and Curiouser: An inspection and valuation of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.
The horror community loves Guillermo del Toro and he seems to love us back.
He’s most certainly one of us!
As well as providing some of the finest horror films of the last thirty years – Mimic; Devil’s Backbone; Pan’s Labyrinth, and TV’s The Strain –he’s also proven quite adept at exploring where horror intersects with other genres e.g., Blade 2 and the Hellboys (superhero) and The Shape of Water (romance).
So if anyone was going to helm a high-budget Netflix horror anthology, del Toro seemed like a prime candidate.
It’s perhaps odd, then, that while some of this is extremely good, some of it is quite weak.
Below, I go through them, not in series order but in the order I would rank them, from worst to best (limited spoilers alert warning!)
8. The Viewing
Um, not good. The first two-thirds is over-indulgent and slow-moving and the shock-reveal ain’t all that. Needed editing and frankly more of a story. Not for me. Sorry.
Want to join one of the fastest-growing communities of UK indie horror fans and creators for FREE? Now you can!
7. The Murmuring
You know what, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this one…there’s just nothing particularly right about it, either. Always good to see Andrew Lincoln, and he and co-star Essie Davis turn in solid performers as a married pair of obsessive bird-watchers, whose hobby acts as a distraction from their deeper issues. But in essence, this is a very pedestrian by-the-numbers ghost story, that delivers nothing particularly new or exciting.
6. The Outside
As well as a solid horror, this is a deft satire on beauty culture and wider American society. Watch it and experience the dark side of taxidermy!
5. Pickman’s Model
This is based on an H. P. Lovecraft short story and it shows, although there is also a doff of the cap to The Portrait of Dorian Grey. Paint me like one of your French girls…
4. Lot 36
This one was based on a short story by Guillermo del Toro but it feels subtly as Lovecraftian as the one above. Now we are getting to the jam!
Bigoted xenophobe Nick purchases the rights to an abandoned storage room lot, previously owned by an old reclusive German.
Guess how that works out for him…
3. Dreams in the Witch House
Rupert Grint’s left his wand behind for this one, as he attempts to rescue his long-deceased sister from a hellish afterlife. Suspenseful, pacey, and visually beautiful, with a darkly delicious twist.
2. Graveyard Rats
Victorian grave robbers, subterranean temples to Elder Gods, and rampant monster rats? Yes, please!
1. The Autopsy
F. Murray Abraham is sheer class in this spectacular alien parasite body horror. Best of the bunch!
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is streaming now on Netflix.