Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is an anthology horror series curated by the legendary filmmaker and written and directed by various directors. The episodes are now streaming on Netflix.
Episode 1 recap: Lot 36
An old man is watching television when he gets up and heads to his kitchen counter. He begins chopping up an animal with a cleaver and the head falls, but when he bends down to pick it up, he succumbs to a heart attack and dies.
Nick is driving while listening to a radio program preaching about white pride and putting immigrants and other races. He arrives at a storage facility where an auction is about to be held for a unit forfeited.
He wins the auction and is seen talking to someone on the phone about a debt. Nick owes the man a huge amount and was seen crossing the state lines which angered his creditor.
The caretaker of the facility, Eddie walks in and the two of them discuss the deal they have going. The caretaker tips Nick off about prospective units in exchange for a cut of the sales from that unit.
Nick collects his keys to the unit but before he leaves, Eddie shows him a video of the old man who owned it. It’s the same man from the beginning, and he follows a strange custom before entering it. He visited every day for several years making it a very strange unit.
Nick starts checking out the unit, meanwhile, a woman named Amelia walks into Eddie’s office to pay the bill for her unit. Eddie apologizes because they couldn’t reach her and sold the unit.
He tells her that it was Nick who bought it, so she can ask him for a chance to look into her unit. She goes to talk to him but Nick isn’t too fond of immigrants and brushes her off quite rudely after giving her the busted lock from her unit.
Nick finds a lot of valuable items within the unit and stores them in his truck. A man approaches him and beats him with a weapon, warning him once again about the debt he owes.
He goes back to Eddie’s office to patch himself up and Eddie gives him a better antique store to take his items. When the deal sees the memorabilia he’s brought she calls in a friend of hers named Roland.
Nick is told that what he’s brought in is an ancient seance table from the 1940s which also contained three volumes on the occult. Roland says that a very rare fourth volume which would bring him close to 300,000 if brought together.
As Nick takes him back to the facility, Roland tells him the story of the man who owned the unit. He was a Nazi who committed unspeakable acts of evil while also making immense amounts of money selling steel in Europe.
He says that the man was rumoured to have used his sister Dottie Wolmar, as a vessel for a demon using the fourth volume. They arrive at the facility and begin searching the unit together. They realize that the back of the unit has a false wall.
Nick opens the lock and they walk into the pathway. At the end of the pathway, they find a chamber with a satanic circle drawn in the middle with Dottie’s body lying in it. Roland points out the demon moving around in the hollow area where Dottie’s face was.
He tells Nick not to break the circle but Nick sees the fourth volume and walks over to get it, breaking the circle. the demonic creature rises and consumes Roland before going after Nick who scrambles away.
Nick reaches the exit and finds the door shut. Amelia walks up to the other side and Nick pleads with her to open the door but she just leaves the busted lock he gave her on the door and leaves. He turns around and is immediately consumed by the demon.
Episode 2 recap: Graveyard Rats
Two young graverobbers are looting a body when a man walks up to them with a gun. He says that he’s Masson, the caretaker of the graveyard and scares them off. He then proceeds to rob the body himself, pulling out their gold fillings.
He drops the tooth in the coffin and when he tries to get it back, he’s bitten by a rat. He takes whatever he’s managed to salvage to an enforcer. The man tells him that he’s short on his instalment and Masson needs to come up with the balance soon or face death.
Masson tells the enforcers that his business of graverobbing has dwindled since the rats have been carrying the bodies away in secret caverns under the city.
Masson visits the coroner’s office the next day because he has an arrangement with the coroner’s assistant. He gets leads on corpses that will be particularly beneficial for him financially.
He finds the body of a wealthy merchant and tries to pull out his fillings as the assistant struggles to stop him. Right then the coroner arrives with the widow of the merchant.
Masson learns that the body will be buried with many valuables so he decides to bide his time. He goes back to his room and has a hallucination of being engulfed by rats that collapse onto him from the ceiling.
He goes to the graveyard to dig up the body but as he opens the coffin, he watches it get dragged away into the ground by the rats. He chooses to go in behind them for the loot.
He crawls through the underground caverns until he gets stuck at one point. The rats engulf him but he whips out his pistol and tries to shoot at them. He ends up shooting his toe first before getting one of them.
He then comes face to face with a giant rat that he shoots once while getting scratched up himself. He tries to escape from the giant rat and falls down a cavern into a chamber filled with bones.
He also finds all the valuables that were buried with these bodies and begins pocketing them. He sees a skeleton wearing a strange-looking amulet and goes up to take it. When he takes the amulet off, the skeleton comes to life and attacks Masson.
He manages to get away from the skeleton and starts crawling upwards through one of the caverns. He reaches a spot where he can stand with a giant rock being held in place above him.
He tries to pull it down and block off the skeleton but on the other side, he sees the giant rat approach. The rat jumps on him and he tries to fight back, eventually getting the rock loose and crushing the rat and blocking off the passage with the skeleton.
He then sees a light at the end of one of the caverns and begins crawling up to it but when reaches it, he sees that it’s the metal epitaph of the coffin he dug up which is closed now.
He panics because he is trapped and soon enough, the rats swarm in and he screams in terror. A while later, the graverobbers from the beginning open up to the coffin to find Masson’s body but when they reach out to touch it, rats start to crawl out of his mouth as they run away.
- Visually, there are many things to praise about these episodes. The effects, the cinematography, and the sets, all add to the absolute terror of these stories. As Masson is crawling through the caverns, they capture the claustrophobic feeling perfectly.
- The script is of a different calibre, especially in ‘Graveyard Rats’. Masson’s fancy vocabulary makes him sound distinguished despite the lowly actions he carries out.
- The stories move at the ideal pace to make them as frightening as possible. Each director takes their own approach to the story they are handed and both appear to have knocked it out of the park.
Cabinet of Curiosities season 1 episode 1 and 2
Director: Guillermo Navarro, Vincenzo Natali
Date Created: 2022-10-25 12:30
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