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 5 recap: Pickman’s Model
William Thurber is a talented artist at a prestigious academy. Their class has a new addition one day, Richard Pickman, who looks considerably older than the others.
While they’re all painting, Will notices the way Richard is using his colours so he goes across to have a look but what he sees has him frozen in fear for a second.
Will is intrigued by Pickman so after learning that he draws at the cemetery, he visits him there. Richard talks about the inspirations behind his art, the true darkness and ugliness of the world.
That night Will tries to complete a painting but finds it extremely difficult. The next day, he goes to the academy where the students are turning in their pieces for the student art prize.
Pickman’s piece is being evaluated and all the board members leave in a huff. Will goes inside and invites Pickman for a few drinks with him and his friends.
Pickman asks Will to drop by his house first so that he can show Will his other paintings. Will goes to Pickman’s place and is horrified by what he sees.
He begins to have terrifying hallucinations which ruin his first meeting with his girlfriend’s father. He rushes back to Pickman’s flat but finds it completely empty.
Years later, Will is married to Rebecca and they have a son together. He seems to have recovered from the effects of Pickman’s paintings.
However, Pickman renters his life when a friend suggests displaying his paintings as part of an exhibition. Will isn’t comfortable and tries to tell people not to look at the paintings but people accuse him of being jealous.
One of the paintings was even sent to Will’s house and his son had a look at it, giving him endless nightmares. He confronts Pickman and tells him to leave and never show his face or his paintings again.
Pickman invites him home to have a look once and then he’ll destroy them. Once they get there, Will is overwhelmed with rage and he burns down the paintings and then shoots Pickman.
Suddenly, one of the monsters from Pickman’s paintings arises from a chamber and drags his body down. Will manages to escape the carnage.
Some time later, things seem to have returned to normal as Will is with Rebecca and his son preparing for a show at a gallery. Will is looking for his friend and the attendant says that he is attending to some last minute changes.
Will goes looking for his friend and realizes that several of Pickman’s paintings are displayed. He finds his friend who is rambling on about nothing and his eyes are gouged out. He rushes to his family who are also looking at a painting.
He sends them home and later when he gets back, he finds his wife similarly rambling with her eyes gouged out. He asks her where his son is and is devastated to find his head in the oven as she says that she’s cooking a feast.
Episode 6 recap: Dreams in the Witch House
Walt sits by his twin sister, Epperley’s side as she is ill. She feels death approaching but Walt promises to protect her and begs her to hold on.
Epperley dies and then Walt sees her soul before it is dragged through a doorway into a forest. Walt spends the next years of his life looking for a way to be reunited with his sister, joining the spiritualist society and meeting people who claim to have powers.
He has his friend Frank for support but Frank seeks out better pastures and takes a better paying job leaving Walt to investigate on his own.
Walt runs into some Native Americans one night who offer him a way to cross the barrier between dimensions. They take him back to an underground room and hand him a vial with cactus juice extract or “liquid gold”.
Walt drinks the vial and wakes up at the opening of the forest of lost souls as it is known. He goes around searching for his sister and just when he catches a glimpse of her, he is pulled back out by the vines.
He tries to tell Frank and his boss at the Spiritualist society about this but they just think he’s under the influence of drugs and cannot be trusted.
Walt reads any information he can find about the subject and learns of a connection between the planes of existence and Keziah Mason, an old witch who was killed centuries ago.
He decides to take up a room for boarding in the witches house to learn more. Meanwhile, he took another trip to the forest and this time he managed to bring back a piece of Epperley’s sleeve, convincing him that he can bring her back.
The first night that he sleeps in the room, he is visited by Keziah’s spirit and a rat with a human head named Jenkins Brown. They see that he is a twin which is exactly who they need to finally be free.
Walt realises that twins are the key between dimensions so he gets another vial of liquid gold and takes it in the witch house. He goes to the forest where Epperley tells him that he shouldn’t have come because Keziah wants to escape too.
Keziah and Jenkins Brown find the twins and begin chasing them, but Walt and Epperley manage to get away. Epperley is now in the real world but still remains a spirit. They go to the other tenant in the house and ask her for help.
She looks at them and realizes that they’re the ones from her painting. She lines some of them up together and tells them that Epperley and Keziah are linked and for them to live, Walt has to die.
They all rush to the church to keep safe from Keziah and Walt calls Frank. Epperley makes herself invisible because she wants to keep Walt safe. Keziah overpowers the protection of the church and takes Walt away back to the house.
Before she can kill him however, Epperley shows up and stabs Keziah with her own wand, finishing her. She then disappears after saying goodbye to Walt who passes out.
The woman and Frank are taking care of Walt and are thankful that it’s over. They see the damage on the roof and go to the attic to investigate where they find the body of Keziah and the rat body with the human head.
Right then, Jenkins Brown who is still alive, begins eating up Walt from inside. He had entered his body when he was unconscious and now he bursts out of his chest, killing him before the sunrise just like the painting predicted.
Later on, he goes back into Walt’s limp body and takes control of it, deciding to make use of it for as long as he possibly can.
- These episodes are slightly varied when it comes to the genre of horror that is being displayed. Pickman’s Model focuses on the evils of the mind while Dreams in the Witch House feels more like the usual fantasy witches and magic fare.
- The art work in Pickman’s Model is truly horrifying but the story does feel a little too vague. Pickman is talking about the darkness of the world but he’s always vague and cryptic and the effect of his paintings are also not clarified.
- In Dreams in the Witch House, Jenkins Brown’s existence is not at all explained, nor is there much attached to the woman apart from her clairvoyant paintings. these stories are terrifying but it also feels like they’re missing something.
Cabinet of Curiosities season 1 episodes 5 and 6
Director: Keith Thomas, Catherine Hardwicke
Date Created: 2022-10-27 12:30