CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (2022)
Aired On: Netflix
Release Date: 10/25/22
Drama. Horror. Mystery.
"Bizarre nightmares unfold in eight tales of terror in a visually stunning, spine-tingling horror collection curated by Guillermo del Toro."
Whoever once said, “When it rains, it pours,” was probably forecasting the level of quality horror that 2022 has given us. Netflix has been cranking out more terrifying episodic delights with All of Us are Dead and The Midnight Club, but late entry Cabinet of Curiosities stands alone. Guillermo Del Toro’s collection of terror hits all corners of the horror pantheon, ensuring no one is safe.
This series was such an unexpected treat. Whatever variety of horror fan you claim to be, you will find a story here to spark your fears.
Cabinet of Curiosities is an anthology of scary stories, eight in total, and they all revolve around some element of gothic horror, fantasy, and macabre.
Del Toro introduces each episode with a classy enthusiasm that lands between a side-show showperson and a child showing off his bug collection. He also presents the directors that helm each episode, showing deep respect in his presentation. Some of these directors are relatively new, and some are veterans. It’s a healthy mixed bag of visions and ideas.
Every episode stems from stories that are based on pre-existing written material, including two stories from Del Toro himself and two from cosmic horror legend H.P. Lovecraft.
There isn’t a bad episode in the bunch; each entry has something to say in its own language. There are tropes, but horror tropes that we’ve come to expect and even desire. There is no shortage of themes of grief, hubris, and accountability, similar to what we’ve seen in A24 art house type horror films of recent years.
And while I feel there aren’t any terrible episodes, some are weirder than others. The seventh episode, “The Viewing,” comes to mind. But there is courage in the strange; there is no time for laziness here. Every story is tight and concise, most clocking in at about an hour in length. There isn’t an ounce of fat with these stories; they punch hard and honestly rocked harder than some feature-length films.
We’ve seen shows like this before. Be it old-school anthology series like Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits. One of the Lovecraft stories was adapted years ago on Night Gallery. But there are also shades of contemporary touches that we’ve seen in Black Mirror, Supernatural and American Horror Story.
And this cast is incredible. Each story features gifted performers who may not be A-listers exactly; you’ll still recognize them from somewhere, lending a quirky comfort as these episodes unfold.
Everyone shines, no matter the size of their role, from Julian Richings, F. Murray Abraham, Kate Micucci (from the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oats), Martin Starr, Ben Barnes, Crispin Glover, Rupert Grint, Peter Weller, and Andrew Lincoln.
Each story has its own identity, look, feel and soundtrack. Going back to the out-of-this-world episode “The Viewing,” the synth soundtrack alone hooked me from the opening sequence.
How you connect to horror will vary, but I’m confident some episodes here will speak to you strongly. I hope there is a second season, the Cabinet of Curiosities has too many more secrets to tell.