If you’re struggling to choose what to watch this Halloween, we urge you to check out the Guillermo del Toro Netflix series Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology series hosted on the streaming service that is thrilling audiences across the world.
Whereas in the second instalment of the show, filmmakers Amirpour and Prior failed to properly capture the theme of ‘Loners’, filmmakers Keith Thomas and Catherine Hardwicke do a better job of capturing the more defined ‘Lovecraft’ topic. In terms of the wider series, night three adds two worthy additions to the show, even if it cannot capture the mystery and majesty of the first two short films.
Pickman’s Model, directed by Keith Thomas, the same mind behind the Stephen King adaptation Firestarter starring Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Zac Efron, is the first film of the double feature, telling a somewhat generic tale of a young student who becomes haunted by the macabre paintings of a mysterious artist. Reminiscent of countless other horror films and TV shows, the instalment may indeed be the worst of the series so far.
This sounds like more of a damning indictment than it actually is, with each of the instalments of the series so far being of good quality, but Thomas’ film fails to hit the mark. Based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, adapted by Lee Patterson, the film, starring Ben Barnes and Crispin Glover, is simply a bit of a bore, with Glover’s mad-cap performance doing the most amount of legwork to keep the tale afloat.
Haunted by the ghostly painted visions of his fellow artist, the protagonist (Barnes) begins to descend on a path of madness, prompting dark visions to creep into his everyday reality, making it harder for him to decide what’s real and what isn’t. Perfectly serviceable, Thomas’ film simply isn’t created with the same verve as its surrounding episodes, standing out as a dud in a good bunch of flicks.
Elevating standards only slightly is the second feature of the double-bill, Catherine Hardwicke’s ‘Dreams in the Witch House’. With a rare appearance from the Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, many viewers will flock to this episode from the director of Twilight just to catch a glimpse of the lesser-spotted actor who took a considerable hiatus from the allure of the silver screen following the completion of the fantasy franchise.
Following Grint’s character as he embarks on a quest to find the spirit of his late sister, Hardwicke’s tale, based on the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft and adapted by Black Mirror screenwriter Mika Watkins is a haunting and thoroughly enjoyable tale. Seeing Grint’s energetic performance is to be reminded of the actor’s evident acting talent; here’s hoping his appearance will prompt many more to come.
Where the first two nights of del Toro’s series largely succeeded, this one leaves a little to be desired. Let’s hope filmmakers Jennifer Kent and Panos Cosmatos can pick things up with the last two episodes.