“Open your mind to fear,” states the tagline for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. We should be grateful for a solid new anthology series that is worthy of attention as we patiently wait for the return of Netflix’s Black Mirror. This new collection of frightful tales shows a great deal of respect for the genre and presents us with mostly top-shelf material. Each episode possesses a strong visual identity and emotional and mental acuity.
The beginning of every episode of Netflix’s new and frightening horror series sees Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro greeting the audience like the iconic showrunners of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. The master of horror plucks an item from an actual cabinet of curiosities and sets the stage for eight stories of mystical, natural, and cosmic horror. There are murmurings of H.P. Lovecraft (a continuing obsession for the showrunner), but the excellent roster of thriller and horror storytellers (Panos Cosmatos, Jennifer Kent, Catherine Hardwicke) ably draw crooked lines from their disparate fictional worlds to the continuing issues we face in our own universe.
The first season of the series has some brilliantly themed nights coming up this week leading up to Halloween:
- October 25 – Night One: “Scavengers” featuring episodes “Lot 36” and “Graveyard Rats”
- October 26 – Night Two: “Loners” featuring episodes “The Autopsy” and “The Outside”
- October 27 – Night Three: “Lovecraft” featuring episodes “Pickman’s Model” and “Dreams in the Witch House”
- October 28 – Night Four: “Visitations” featuring episodes “The Viewing” and “The Murmuring”
Picking a favorite episode out of the bunch is a bit of a graveyard hunt at this time, but the true quality of Cabinet of Curiosities is that like Black Mirror, it knows its genre quite well and is highly selective in choosing themed stories that fit well together. Each episode works like a thrilling short story that leaves you panting for more. Night Two, “Loners,” might be my favorite set since it showcases one of The Twilight Zone‘s best themes: lovable and lonely protagonists trying to get a leg up on their downtrodden lives and failing in horribly catastrophic ways. These curious tales will always resonate no matter the decade they are told and retold.
A pair of short stories also comingle horror and sci-fi in new ways. “The Viewing” stars Peter Weller as an odd billionaire who asks a coterie of experts to his home to extract their opinions on a certain subject. It’s best to leave that to your imagination for now. The ’80s production, synth score, and trick-or-treat levels of rich dude cocaine make for a fevered tale. There are murder mysteries, comedic horror shows, and classic flights of Gothic fancy. I welcome watching Season 2 already since this first look into the cabinet left me wholly impressed overall. Guillermo del Toro strikes again.
Netflix debuts Cabinet of Curiosities on October 25th, with two episodes dropping daily through Friday, October 28th, when the full collection of eight short stories will be available. Celebrate Halloween all week long with Guillermo and friends!
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