Curiouser and Curiouser

Guillermo del Toro spotlights other directors in fantastic Netflix horror anthology series

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the anthology presented by the celebrated horror and comic book film director, promises eight unique tales helmed by some of the most exciting auteurs around.

Cabinet features Vincenzo Natali (Cube), Guillermo Navarro (Cinematographer for Pan’s Labyrinth), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Keith Thomas (The Vigil), and Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) among others.

Bringing together eight vastly different voices means that the tone and style vary wildly from episode to episode. While that might mean that several of the stories or approaches might not resonate with you, it also means that you could find your all-time favorite television horror episode within.

Sometimes more Tales from the Crypt than The Twilight Zone, other times more H.P. Lovecraft period piece than The Outer Limits, Cabinet has something for every horror taste.

Each episode starts out with an introduction by Del Toro himself, walking around in a suit like Alfred Hitchcock. As much as I love him, these introductions are lacking in showmanship and fall somewhat flat, but they’re brief by design and take the opportunity to shout out the directors, which is a plus.

Del Toro, if nothing else, has been a strong, supportive voice for horror filmmaking throughout his career, especially Latino filmmakers. Cabinet serves this same purpose, with Del Toro often credited as co-writer or creature designer.

So, while not every CGI creature and moment is pitch perfect, there’s a palpable, genuine care and craft put into all of it.

Netflix began dropping the episodes two at a time on October 25th. Strangely, the first two episodes are essentially the same story arc. Both feature curmudgeons with their backs up against the wall, seeking out big scores to settle debt. And later in the season there are back-to-back Lovecraft short story adaptations. These four episodes still feel varied beyond those surface similarities.

The early season standouts are certainly David Prior’s The Autopsy and Amirpour’s The Outside if you’re at all into sci-fi or body horror. Autopsy is a slow-burn, alien body snatcher procedural starring F. Murray Abraham that builds up to a great final act. Outside is a complete grossout driven by Kate Miucci’s kooky performance, with a cameo by Dan Stevens as a character called Alo Glo Man.

The season of Cabinet of Curiosities is definitely backloaded with Panos Cosmatos (Mandy) and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) directing the final two episodes. Netflix hasn’t yet released these episodes as of this writing, so here’s hoping that they deliver.

Even if they don’t, Del Toro’s gift of a varied showcase deserves celebration and support in the horror community in anticipation of what future seasons could bring. Aren’t you curious?

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Pablo Gallaga

Pablo Gallaga is a former video blogger and recapper for Television Without Pity (RIP). You can probably find him at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. He will thwart your alien invasion by uploading a rudimentary computer virus to your mothership using a 1996 Apple Powerbook and no Wi-Fi.

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