GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES is a Netflix horror anthology assembling a strong team of directors, actors, and writers to produce eight horror stories in the Gothic and Grand Guignol (flawed person gets grisly justice) genres. Overall, I found it a mixed bag ranging from okay to good.
There’s plenty to like here. Even in the stories that didn’t do anything for me, there was at least something that shined, whether it was in the sets, acting, costuming, and so on. Overall, the series feels deep, has a refined aesthetic, and is overall highly competent.
The only thing is there isn’t much here I haven’t seen before, little that was really surprising. Honestly, I feel the same way about Del Toro’s work in general, which I find supremely competent to the point of being made with love but overall lacking any real oomph. I also find the Grand Guignol type of horror very difficult to consider impressive anymore. A jerk gets punished in a horrible way: It’s been done so many times and to so many extremes that it’s difficult to find it satisfying unless a really original flaw or punishment is offered.
A few episodes stood out as quite good, notably “The Outside,” “The Autopsy,” and “The Viewing.” “The Murmuring” also had some great ghost effects, a case of channeling Del Toro directly, who does really good ghosts. Of that list, “The Viewing” really stands out and made the entire series worthwhile for me, delivering a fantastically heavy 70s horror vibe, a terrific creature, and Peter Weller still rocking at being Peter Weller. Though it ended abruptly, it had so much going for it I wished it had been longer.
So overall, I liked it fine, though I’ve gotten jaded to the point where I’m always looking at something that hits me where I less expect it.