Cabinet Review of Curiosities for Guillermo del Toro – the perfect horror series to watch before Halloween

THere are some safer bets than being a Guillermo del Toro fan. Whether he’s breathing life into a wooden doll, falling in love with Sally Hawkins, or defending Martin Scorsese online, he’s a seemingly endless source of joy. In the lead-up to Halloween, it continues to pay off with Cabinet of Curiosities (Netflix), an eight-part series that is as elegant as it is hideous. While it is assumed that in any anthology series there will be hits and misses, nothing in this closet is worth getting rid of.

Del Toro wrote two of the episodes but “orchestrated” them all, bringing together eight directors to create stand-alone nightmares. He appears at the beginning of each, unlike Rod Serling in The Twilight Zone. But del Toro represents an even more sinister character, with an expression that doesn’t smile firmly as he displays each episode ominously as if it were something damned. Shown next to it is the craft treasury, an ornate wooden structure resembling a multi-level palace; We’re told, its contents range from keys to bones to rhino horns. Meanwhile, del Toro’s closet is also filled with some of the scariest horror voices, including Jennifer Kent from The Babadook, Anna Lily Amirpour from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and David Pryor from The Empty Man. But each one keeps its offerings rooted in Guillermo’s signature style of a twisted fairy tale, peppered with stomach-ripple effects and pathological morals. This is a closet in which arrogance leads you to hell, and cruelty returns tenfold.

The series begins with Lot 36, directed by Guillermo Navarro, Del Toro’s longtime collaborator – who won an Academy Award as cinematographer for Best Picture for director, Pan’s Labyrinth. There are similar threads of fascism and fantasy in Lot 36, with Tim Blake Nelson playing a military veteran who is slowly swallowed up by “alt-right” talking points. He spends his days being chased by debt collectors and selling the contents of abandoned storage units. Blake Nelson is exceptional, playing up all the bitterness and selfishness of his fascist brainwashing, but he retains enough small cracks of humanity to remain compelling, even when he inevitably encounters a volume of truly horrific contents.

The series then indulges in its most infamous tale, Graveyard Rats, from Vincenzo Natali who was behind the classic Kafka’s Nightmare Cube. Adapted from Henry Kuttner’s short story, the premise is simple: a grave robber digs up a wealthy corpse, only to see it being dragged away by a pack of rats. Undeterred, he chases bugs through twisting dark tunnels and discovers something much worse there. The journey through the tunnels is utterly unpleasant and heart-wrenching. Equally horrific moments and apocalyptic physical horror fill the tale of the autopsy, in which he encounters before as a doctor in a coroner’s office a corpse in need of more than a “cause of death.”

Meanwhile, H.P. Lovecraft’s Beckman model is in the hands of The Vigil director Keith Thomas, who embraces Del Toro’s fantastical potential and Lovecraft’s cosmic dread with a staff led by the always intriguing Crispin Glover. But the most amazing of all is The view from Panos Cosmatos, the avant-garde manager Nicolas Cage taking revenge on Mandy. This false drug tale develops into a demonic character who feels taken from del Toro’s clique.

The tone changes throughout the series, but she always keeps one foot in del Toro’s filmography; The dark humor of the Hellboy films appears in The Outside’s Transformation Nightmare, where Stacey (brilliantly awkward Kate Micucci) plays an amateur taxidermy professional eager to get along with her adorable fellow bankers. Despite the objections of her husband (Martin Starr), she can’t resist the temptation of Alo Glo, which has been sold in TV ads by delicious camper Dan Stevens. It’s a classic “Be careful what you wish for” tale with all the skill you’d expect from del Toro and director Amirpour.

Perhaps the most significant deviation from the packet is the least intimidating but most disturbing entry. The Murmuring sees Kent reunite with co-star Essie Davis in the heartbreaking tale of a pair of ornithologists retreating to a secluded home to research bird migrations and recover from a terrible loss. The piece contains all the sweet sadness of Kent’s work and the horror tragedy of del Toro’s orphanage, The Devil’s Backbone. It also perfectly sums up what makes Cabinet of Curiosities an absolute win. It lets filmmakers take inspiration from the master without crushing their soul, giving del Toro plenty of delicious bad tales to present to the viewer. There seems to be no better way to countdown to Halloween than with this assurance that the horror is in safe, albeit sinister, hands.

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