Guillermo Del Toros Cabinet Of Curiosities is scary good

  • The Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toros greets viewers at the start of each episode of Netflix’s
  • Latest anthology horror series, Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities.
  • Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities is a welcome addition to the filmmaker’s oeuvre,

The Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toros greets viewers at the start of each episode of Netflix’s latest anthology horror series, Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities. The Pan’s Labyrinth director immediately evokes Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone by introducing each new tale in front of an actual cabinet of curiosities. And the parallels are accurate, if not always welcome. After all, del Toro’s first foray into television finds him hosting and serving as a tastemaker for a stellar lineup of horror and thriller storytellers who remind us why this genre remains fertile ground for exploring today’s most pressing issues.

But perhaps we should pause to explain why del Toro chose the title “cabinet of curiosities” as both the title and the concept for the show. “In centuries past, when the world was full of mystery and travelling was reserved for the very few,” he explains in the series’ first episode (the Guillermo Navarro-directed “Lot 36,” written by Regina Corrado from an original del Toro story): “A new form of collection was born.” The cabinet of curiosities, which could be a structure or a piece of furniture, housed anything and everything. And each of its objects was linked to a story.

At the beginning of each instalment, he opens the titular wood-carved cabinet and presents us with an object that will be crucial to these stories (a set of keys, say, or a remote control).

Guillermo del Toros Cabinet of Curiosities (Season 1)

2022 | Drama/Horror/Mystery
Grade
A

CAST

Any review of an anthology series, especially one as strong as this one, is bound to favour some stories over others. And, while there are numerous standout episodes (actors Tim Blake Nelson and F. Murray Abraham, for example, make the entries they star in, “Lot 36” and “The Autopsy,” respectively, gripping performance showcases that double as meditations on what we owe the dead), we’d be remiss if we didn’t single out the one we’ve yet to shake.

We’re talking about “The Outside,” directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. This horror-comedy take on the preyed insecurities of a young woman in a wintry nondescript suburban neighbourhood, written by Haley Z. Boston and based on a short story by comics author Emily Carroll, is a knockout. Stacey, an awkward bank teller whose love of taxidermy, not to mention her unfashionable sense of style, keeps her on the outs with her beautifully coiffed colleagues, is portrayed by Kate Micucci (best known as one half of the musical comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates).

We’re talking about “The Outside,” directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. This horror-comedy take on the preyed insecurities of a young woman in a wintry nondescript suburban neighbourhood, written by Haley Z. Boston and based on a short story by comics author Emily Carroll, is a knockout. Stacey, an awkward bank teller whose love of taxidermy, not to mention her unfashionable sense of style, keeps her on the outs with her beautifully coiffed colleagues, is portrayed by Kate Micucci (best known as one half of the musical comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates). She defamiliarizes water-cooler gossip and office secret Santas with such deft ease in “The Outside” that you’ll never believe anything is scarier than a gaggle of shoulder-pad-wearing women silently judging you while aggressively lotioning their arms with abandon. Amirpour’s directorial offering here is, above all, a fantastic chance to see Micucci shine. It’s a darkly comedic fable about the impossible beauty standards women needlessly hold each other to. The episode’s final extended shot, which mocks and complicates an all-too-bleak ending, is a transfixing master class in how comedy and horror make perfect bedfellows.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities is a welcome addition to the filmmaker’s oeuvre, serving as both a survey of contemporary horror and an ode to the timeless nature of its many concerns. As he has repeatedly demonstrated, the Oscar-winning director is as much a student as a master of horror, and here he is once again allowing audiences to revel in its many possibilities with a slew of entrancing and, at times, all too timely stories—and just in time for Halloween, no less.

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