Like a version of Netflix’s Black Mirror, if each and every episode was barbed with terror, Cabinet of Curiosities has been an utter joy to watch this Halloween season.
Admittedly, whilst the show’s overall tone is hauntingly inviting, not every episode has been able to live up to its potential, with ‘Night Three’, containing films from Catherine Hardwicke and Keith Thomas, proving to hit a dull note. Still, the momentum from del Toro’s chilling introductions to each episode sparks a fire in the belly of the viewer, making each new episode a Pandora’s box of surprises.
Thankfully, Netflix’s crafty order of release left the best of del Toro’s curiosities until last, with both of the movies included in ‘Night Four’ proving to be the very best of the series.
From the director of the Nicolas Cage movie Mandy, Panos Cosmatos, The Viewing is the most distinctive body of work in the collection of the Cabinet of Curiosities, utilising the filmmaker’s vibrant, otherworldly style. Toying with colour, just like in his aforementioned 2018 movie, The Viewing, based on a short story by Michael Shea, is a phantasmagorical trip into Lovecraftian terror.
With a curious cast, which includes the likes of Eric André, Peter Weller, Sofia Boutella and Charlyne Yi, the film follows a wealthy maverick recluse (Weller) who invites four famous professionals in their field to experience a night of ethereal revelation. Feeding them personalised drinks, weed and copious amounts of cocaine with a sprinkling of a mysterious blue powder, we spend much of the film chilling in the group’s company before things get crazy.
But, when s**t hits the fan, you’ll be baffled at the extent Cosmatos goes to terrify and bewilder; he truly is one of the most idiosyncratic minds working in contemporary cinema.
Speaking of innovative horror filmmakers, the Australian writer and director Jennifer Kent takes the reins on the eighth and final movie of the series, finishing things off with a charming flourish with The Murmuring. Based on a short story by Del Toro, the story sees two ornithologists, played by Essie Davis and Andrew Lincoln, who are struggling to overcome the death of their daughter when they move into an old house with a history of its own.
Very much a traditional ghost story, The Murmuring deals with unsettled spirits and ancient trauma, providing a neat parallel for the experiences of the two lead characters. Whilst it doesn’t offer much new in the realms of horror, Kent’s creative vision takes the genre to an idyllic new location, capturing the marshy surroundings of the ancient house where birds flock overhead with stunning beauty.
Gifting traditional and visionary horror in one neat package, ‘Night Four’ of Cabinet of Curiosities caps off the series in serious style, with Jennifer Kent and Panos Cosmatos once again proving themselves as innovative minds in the ever-evolving horror genre.