In the nights leading up to Halloween, Netflix released episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an eight-episode anthology horror series. Each episode is an expertly crafted short story of the spooky variety, with a uniting theme throughout of the things we’re willing to do for money, beauty, art, love, knowledge—and birds.
Here are all eight episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, ranked from the worst to the best episodes.
8. “The Murmuring” (Episode 8)
This one is about ornithologists (if you don’t have a dictionary on hand, that’s a bird scientist). Don’t be fooled by the friendly Canadian accents—there is something seriously sinister going on in “The Murmuring,” a story about a husband and wife who become guests at a strange old house while on a birdwatching trip.
This episode has definite Haunting of Hill House vibes—think creepy old house where you swear you see someone staring at you from the shadows. When the wife starts to hear cries from the people who used to live there, bird science starts to become less important.
The story is laced with a subplot about the death of the couple’s only child one year prior. Overall a good story that’s cinematically interesting, but arguably the least memorable on this list.
7. “Dreams in The Witch House” (Episode 6)
Based on an H.P. Lovecraft Story, this episode of Cabinet of Curiosities cast Rupert Grint (you know him as Ron Weasley) as the lead, and it's the story of two twins: a boy, who promises his sister he’ll always protect her, and a girl, who dies as a child. After Epperley, the girl, turns into a ghost right in front of her brother’s eyes, he becomes possessed with the idea of somehow bringing her back into the physical realm.
The boy misses his sister so much he’ll believe anything just for one last chance to save her—so much so that he’ll even take drugs that will allow him to access the “other realm.” Unfortunately, the sleep paralysis demon witch Keziah he encounters on the other side isn’t a fan of his plans.
I wanted to love “Dreams in The Witch House” so badly (mostly because I’m so excited to see Rupert Grint acting more), but overall this is one of the least exciting episodes. I’m not a fan of Keziah’s little rat sidekick, either.
6. “Lot 36” (Episode 1)
Storage facilities are eerie enough on their own, but when you add in an element of demonic possession they become even more chilling. Or at least that’s what I learned in “Lot 36," Episode 1 of Cabinet of Curiosities.
The main character is Nick, and to be honest he’s really not a good guy. He’s a white supremacist, has little empathy for others, and is clearly involved in some unsavory business dealings. He frequents a run-down storage facility looking for forgotten items to pawn, but he’s going to need to find a huge treasure if he’s going to pay back the debts he owes.
He buys Lot 36, which is full of literal Nazi memorabilia and a curious looking table that turns out to be the key to a demonic ritual. No one survives this one—but he was a white supremacist, so it’s really okay to root for the demons this time.
Definitely a slow start with an unlikable “protagonist,” but I love the theme that the devil would be able to sense the darkness in a white supremacist. Very good ending.
5. “Graveyard Rats” (Episode 2)
The star of Episode 2 is Masson, a fidgety but greedy grave robber who must battle rats for the spoils in the cemetery.
Rats are disgusting to me—the imagery of the rail tail sticking out of the ceiling and the rats pouring out made me physically itchy—so this one definitely upped the creep factor for me.
I never considered that the hardest part of being a grave robber would be dealing with the rats, though—I always thought it would be the digging. But when Masson goes into the rat hole, he begins to understand just how sophisticated the graveyard rats really are.
If rodents make you squeamish, this one will scare your pants off. Includes a classic “caught between a zombie and a rat king” scenario, and the scariest ending of any Cabinet episode.
4. “The Outside” (Episode 4)
Martin Starr and Kate Micucci star in this short story about a quirky woman who just wants to be beautiful. One unfortunate holiday party and a taxidermy duck later, and Stacey is willing to do just about anything to fit in with her hot, fun, beautiful coworkers.
At first glance, you might think “The Outside” is about the horrors of aging as a woman. In reality, this Christmas-themed creeper is about the horrors the beauty industry impresses upon us. Stacey will really give up anything to be beautiful—her husband, her hobbies, her money—even her own body.
Listen, if Dan Stevens started talking to me through my TV telling me he could promise me perfect skin, I’d probably listen to him, too. This one will be especially scary for anyone who’s traumatized by skin conditions, or has spent one too many paychecks at Sephora. It also includes my favorite line from the entire Cabinet of Curiosities season: “Uhhh, what the fuck Stace? You stabbed me in the face.”
3. “The Viewing” (Episode 7)
In “The Viewing,” four people meet to attend a secret gathering at the home of a mysterious wealthy host. An astrophysicist, a music producer, a psychic, and an author join the host, Mr. Lassiter, and his companion Dr. Zahra in a night of drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. Then it’s time to do what they all came for: view the unknown object Mr. Lassiter has hidden away in his house. Fans of Eric Andre will love his performance in this episode, where a mysterious rock has the power to melt people’s faces off.
This episode lived up to the series name—very curious. Even when it ended I didn’t know whether or not to trust Mr. Lassiter, although I absolutely loved the mid-century modern conversation pit in his house. However, I did not understand a single thing that happened after they brought out the space cocaine. This episode left me feeling like I needed just a little bit more context, but overall a very entertaining story.
2. “Pickman’s Model” (Episode 5)
Also based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, “Pickman’s Model” tells the story of a young aspiring artist, Will, who’s haunted by the hypnotic paintings of a classmate, Dickie Pickman.
Dickie is a pretty creepy guy with a very ambiguous backstory, but his talent is undeniable. He has the ability to draw creatures and scenes that are so entrancing they literally drive the viewer mad. Even worse, Dickie reveals that the paintings don’t come from his head—they come from his life.
This episode taught me that if someone told me the only thing I’m NOT allowed to do is look at a painting….I’d probably look at the painting.
This one was really, really good, and probably would have been my favorite episode if the somewhat unsatisfying ending hadn’t left me needing a little more.
1. “The Autopsy” (Episode 3)
Off the bat, David Prior’s Cabinet episode seems the least attention-grabbing. It begins in a coal mine, but as the episode progresses we watch the story unfold from the point of view of a small town sheriff discussing a disturbing case with a colleague. A string of murders have occurred in town, but something unusual ties them together: There’s never any blood.
The sheriff enlists the help of a doctor friend (F. Murray Abraham, who’s also in the new season of White Lotus) to perform autopsies on some of the bodies, but the investigation takes a sharp turn to the left when the doctor comes face to face with the monster who’s been terrorizing the town.
An utterly horrifying live autopsy, an otherworldly creature, and a somewhat triumphant ending make “The Autopsy” the number one episode of the season.
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.
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