This piece contains extremely few spoilers for Cabinet of Curiosities, so if you haven’t watched it yet, check out our spoiler-free review!
Guillermo del Toro has long been both a brilliant master and an assiduous student of horror. His latest creation, Netflix’s anthology horror series Cabinet of Curiosities also mirrors the Oscar-winning director’s sides. While the eight horror-filled episodes are each delightfully dark in their own way and once again show del Toro’s great skill in genre curation and taste for storytelling, that’s the narrative role the director plays. that we are here to celebrate today.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: Images and episode details for the Netflix anthology series
Each episode begins as del Toro explores the titular cabinet. He presents it to us before the very first entry, because it grows almost organically from the ground. It’s here that he lays the groundwork for the enchanting and eerie treats each story will offer. Behind each door is a sculpture, a strange letter or a memory that will indicate where our visual experience is heading. It’s an ornate and at least partly practical creation reminiscent of del Toro’s earlier works like Cronos. There’s something tangible and terrifying here, a belief that you too could touch the cabinet and maybe if you did you might really find something awful inside. The cabinet is an effective accessory that connects del Toro and his introductions to those who influenced him.
Throughout his life, del Toro spoke of his love for Alfred Hitchcock. In fact, when he was in his early twenties, he wrote a whole book in which he analyzes each of the director’s films. So it makes sense that Cabinet of Curiosities’ greatest inspiration came from the classic TV anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Here, del Toro pays homage to his hero not only with dynamic and suspenseful storytelling, but also as a chilling guide through the horrors to come. This 1955 series, which originally aired on CBS and NBC, featured Hitchcock presenting each of the tall tales theatrically. del Toro channels that here, bringing a cold gravity and disconnected respect for the damned souls we’re about to meet. Like Hitchcock before him, he uses props to draw us in, artifacts to make fables more real.
Best manga Junji Ito
It’s not just Hitchcock, though, as many viewers probably thought of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone when they saw del Toro’s delightful interludes. And Serling was almost certainly an influence, though it’s more likely that it was his other criminally underrated horror-focused anthology series Night Gallery that really shaped del Toro’s role as a storyteller. . Like anyone who watched the haunting spectacle as a child, the director was deeply affected by it. “I would go into complete paroxysms of terror,” he said in a old interview. “The one time I literally, literally peed my pants in fear. I did! I’m not speaking figuratively! I freed the bladder! It was an episode of Night Gallery titled ” The Doll” which was based on the short story by Algernon Blackwood.”
Cabinet of Curiosities takes its form from Night Gallery and The Twilight Zone before it. Not only does the series adapt stories from classic authors, but it also features tales from the spirit of del Toro, just as Serling would author entries in those iconic shows. Like del Toro has his cabinet, Serling had his surreal paintings that hinted at what was to come in his experimental, hustling tales. No wonder del Toro clearly enjoys his role, following in the footsteps of two of his heroes who pioneered genre storytelling. His cool, calm delivery reflects Serling’s earnestness with a bit of Hitchcock’s deadpan. While the latter liked to poke fun at himself a little, del Toro and Serling share a sincerity, almost in awe of the tales they present to us. And in Cabinet of Curiosities, del Toro also brings something of his own. He is a prophetic voice, a warning, making sure we know that pursuing these sights comes at a cost.
After watching the first season of Cabinet of Curiosities, it looks like del Toro has found himself a new niche. It’s a role that develops and uses both his love of horror and cinema. It feels like a natural next step, another bowstring for the award-winning director. He’s known for his incredible collection of horror ephemera and movie memorabilia, and as he introduces us to the wonders inside the Cabinet of Curiosities, it feels like he’s lifting that veil and us provides insight into the nightmares that inspire it to scare us.
Rosie Knight is a contributing freelancer for IGN covering everything from anime and comics to kaiju, kids movies and horror movies. She has over half a decade of experience in entertainment journalism with signings to Nerdist, Den of Geek, Polygon, and more. Rosie is a published comic book writer who has written titles such as Godzilla Rivals vs. Battra and The haunted high shoes. She co-hosts the weekly pop culture podcast Crooked Media X-Ray Vision.
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