There are things in this world that we may never truly fully understand. There are also things in this world that we are too afraid to understand, some of them being our own human psyche and behaviors. Cabinet of Curiosities is no exception when it comes to the outlandish and bizarre, showcasing storytelling at its finest and capturing both humanity’s strengths and flaws.
This review is late to the party but contains minimal spoilers ahead
The series consists of eight episodes, each of them telling a different story either based on an original concept or adapted from works of well-known writers such as H.P. Lovecraft. These were the types of stories that I loved reading and writing growing up. Ranging from aliens to ghosts to grave robbing rats, Curiosities definitely covers all the bases when it comes to the horror genre. No two stories looked or felt the same. Each episode had a different director which in turn, they all had a unique look and tone to them. Guillermo del Toro gave the directors free range to make the story their own and I think that’s what made it such a fun series to sit down with and watch. You’ll also recognize some familiar faces such as Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley from Harry Potter) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead) amongst many other talented actors and actresses.
While the series was an interesting watch, it was also very uncomfortable at times. When I say “uncomfortable”, I don’t mean that in a negative context. There were some aspects of a few episodes that made me very uneasy due to SFX (more on that later) used or a plot point. In one particular episode, an alien merged itself with a human resulting in a slimey, humanoid figure. You might be thinking “well what’s wrong with that?” and my answer to you is nothing. But at that moment in time, the greasy and wet look of the alien made me ill. The squelching noises didn’t help either but props to the sound department for making my stomach churn. But deep down I think the whole point of the show is to make viewers uncomfortable and force us to face things that we’d otherwise avoid out in the real world. It wouldn’t be called Cabinet of Curiosities if we didn’t quench our thirst for curiosity.
Another area I have to praise is the SFX team. All the creature designs were absolutely beautiful and well made. While the show didn’t really heavily rely on CGI, the SFX team for every episode brought their A game to deliver some phenomenal make-up effects. A personal favorite of mine (and it’s difficult to choose since every episode had an incredible make-up team) was from episode six, “Dreams In The Witch House”. The entity that appears in the episode, deceased witch Keziah Mason, had the appearance of a tree in which her skin was bark-like and her fingers were long like twigs or branches. I’m a sucker for nature inspired make-up and this one scratched an itch in my brain. The execution is as flawless as it was beautiful. Every episode’s SFX team should be proud of what they accomplished.
Whether you dig the horror genre or you just love being occasionally uncomfortable, Cabinet of Curiosities has all the ingredients for the perfect horror anthology series. Fingers crossed that we get more of this gruesomeness (if this isn’t a word then it is now) and brave storytelling.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities can be streamed now on Netflix.