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Even the biggest names in Hollywood couldn’t rescue Netflix’s flat Cabinet of Curiosities

Despite being directed by Natali, Prior, Sterling, and starring actors like Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame, the show just leaves a bitter aftertaste.

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Satanic nazis, skeletal demons, wiggly monsters — Netflix’s new horror show Cabinet of Curiosities has all this and more. The eight-episode series, curated by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, promises to give its viewers bizarre nightmares.

The show features standalone episodes created by some of the biggest names in the American film industry, including directors Vincenzo Natali and David Prior. You get to see Ruper Grint of Harry Potter fame, Sebastian Roché, and Crispin Glover who try blending in with the gory atmosphere created in the series.

A “Halloween gift from Toro”, Netflix has intended to further amplify the craze by releasing two episodes per day before Halloween, starting 25 October. The show is well-directed and visually stunning, but when it comes to the content, it is mostly flat.

The first two episodes — Lot 36 by TV writer Regina Corrado and Toro and Graveyard Rats by Natali — are more or less alike. Corrado is famous for her 2004 show Deadwood and Natalie for a range of iconic science fiction and horror movies such as Splice (2009) and Cube (1997). The two episodes feel stale, circling around the done-to-death moralistic virtue of ‘respecting the dead’. In both cases, the protagonists are in debt, compelled to play with dark forces for a quick buck that eventually leads to a gory end. This sets the tone for the rest of the episodes in the series and functions as a cautionary tale instead of a gripping mystery.

While Prior’s third episode titled The Autopsy is focused on sinister extraterrestrial creatures, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Outside is offbeat and deals with the trouble of fitting in.


Also read: Mohanlal-starrer ‘Monster’ is a tasteless cocktail of cliches, stereotypes, and lazy writing


Where it gets better

The right amount of macabre comes only in the fifth and sixth episodes — Pickman’s Model by Keith Thomas and Dreams in the Witch House by Catherine Hardwicke. Both are inspired by the stories written by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. While the former has an Oscar Wildean theme, with its subject of ‘art taking precedence over reality’ and Ben Barnes as the protagonist (who also played the central role in the 2009 film Dorian Gray), the latter goes back to the idea of disturbing the natural forces of life and death and faces grave implications.

Toro perfectly presents himself as the custodian of these standalone tales and as the show’s host.

Cabinet of Curiosities resembles past popular horror anthologies like The Twilight Zone’s logical extension Night Gallery (1969) by Sterling or William Gaines’ Tales from the Crypt (1989). Although it is far better than the 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone, giving the audience enough jump scares at the start in an unnerving setting, at the end of the episodes, the show leaves a bitter taste.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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Satanic nazis, skeletal demons, wiggly monsters — Netflix's new horror show Cabinet of Curiosities has all this and more. The eight-episode series, curated by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, promises to give its viewers bizarre nightmares. The show features standalone episodes created by some...Even the biggest names in Hollywood couldn't rescue Netflix's flat Cabinet of Curiosities