Por: Juan Pablo Martínez Zúñiga
The anthological nature of the story on television or cinema is a dazzling flame for those who know how to take advantage of the resource of intrinsic narrative diversification in the format due to its wide range of dramatic exploration, and for someone with such ambitions as director Guillermo del Toro whose hardening as a creator has been in the presentation of multiple stories that walk the path of specific genres, this was an almost inevitable project. “The Cabinet of Curiosities…” is the result, a series made up of eight self-contained stories that adapt essential texts in the collection of any fan of reading the most celebrated modern or cult fantasy (HP Lovecraft, Henry Kuttner or Emily Carroll) or also original scripts that are linked by an inevitable moral or ethical instruction (as has happened in projects of this type since “The Twilight Zone”) by the handling of mortals in matters of the metaphysical or supernatural. Del Toro manages to put together a very interesting range of stories that, like any similar exercise, varies in quality and presentation depending on the creative team in charge (which includes renowned writers such as David S. Goyer or famous directors such as Vincenzo Natali or Ana Lily Amirpur). , but the autonomy granted by the Mexican filmmaker to the directors and screenwriters in charge of each episode to develop through their style or idiolect a macabre experience as well as higher-than-average production values is undeniable, so that each narration reaches certain cinematographic dimensions in its plastic and content. Due to the independence with which the stories are presented, each episode will be approached in order of appearance, so sit back, turn on a light and let yourself be carried away through the sinister labyrinth that del Toro has designed for his gloomy delight.
“LOT 36” – The great Tm Blake Nelson plays an ambitious collector of lots where he comes across some dark tomes of satanic invocation that will bring the expected results, coupled with his misogynistic, xenophobic and truculent behavior. Nothing we haven’t seen before but this twisted version of “The Merchant of Venice” in a redneck North America manages to work thanks to Guillermo Navarro’s fierce direction and Nelson’s excellent performance.
“GRAVEYARD RATS” – With a period atmosphere and a plot line worthy of Poe, a grave robber ends up facing a fatal fate due to his black intentions towards a corpse that protects a valuable sword and guarded not only by multiple rats, but also by his monstrous progenitor. VincenzoNatali’s direction is atmospheric and at times claustrophobic, and even if the punchline is expected, he presents himself with drama and viscerality.
“THE AUTOPSY” – One of the best episodes for its brilliant use of existential dissertation but from an unexpected source: an alien that consumes corpses to lodge in them. The debate he has with a coroner (F. Murray Abraham in excellent form) while the latter is eviscerated from consciousness is simply hypnotic and rich in grotesque lyricism.
“THE APPEARANCE” – Weak story about the need for self-acceptance where a physically disadvantaged woman (Kate Micucci) tries a magical beautifying cream that will give her and her husband a narcissistic nightmare all to fit in with their beautiful co-workers. A script inclined to the moral and a poorly worked ending take away any narrative power.
“THE PICKMAN MODEL” – Excellent adaptation to the classic Lovecraft text that suffers from a plot compression to a series of reflections on art and the consumption of the soul by the artistic profession greatly benefited by CrispinGlover’s performance as the evil painter Pickman and his relationship with an aspiring art plastic. Superb dream sequences and disturbing imagery make this episode the most visually appealing.
“DREAMS IN THE WITCH’S HOUSE” – Another Lovecraft story but poorly developed due to a disjointed rhythm and poor character work where an investigator (Rupert Grint) insists on discovering the whereabouts of his deceased twin sister, a situation that will lead him to contact a dark entity defended by a anthropomorphic rat. On paper the story is disturbing, but here everything is literalized to the point of annoyance.
“THE VISIT” – With his customary psychedelic sensibility and extravagant handling of the color palette, director PanosCosmatos treats us to a delirious encounter between various individuals of different trades (singer-songwriter, astrophysicist, etc.) in the luxurious modernist mansion of a wealthy and mysterious man (Peter Weller). who seeks to awaken a mystical cosmic demon. Between glitter tones and golden machine guns, the result is to be seen to be believed, in a good way.
“THE MURMUL” – Measured and introspective ghost story where an ornithologist couple (Essie Davies and Andrew Lincoln) confront the figurative and literal specters of the past while discussing issues such as motherhood, loneliness and grief. Good work by director Jennifer Kent and a minimalist cast in an almost theatrical staging.