Episode 4 of Cabinet of Curiosities starts with us at Christmas time! Hooray! A quaint suburban street sees Christmas lights twinkling all along. While most people are asleep, Stacey is not. She struggles with insomnia; she watches late-night TV and hears strange noises, convinced that there’s someone outside.
Stacey feels alienated at work too, with all the other women wrapped up in their own gossip. Gina’s party is coming up and the office do Secret Santa. Stacey gets Gina herself. So what better present than a stuffed taxidermic duck, right?
Gina’s party sees a whole bunch of these caricatured women all join together and talk all things cosmetics, plastic surgery and divorce. As they all chatter among themselves, the mood is completely broken when Stacey hands over her gift to Gina. Gina awkwardly accepts the gift but she simply casts it aside. Meanwhile, Stacey receives an identical gift to the rest of the girls, which happens to be some skin lotion. Unfortunately, Stacey is allergic to it and she comes up in a big, angry rash.
Desperate to fit in and wanting to be loved, Stacey gets up in the middle of the night and notices an advert for a lotion called Alo Glo on TV, the same brand she’s allergic to. The man inside the TV speaks directly to Stacey, promising to fix her and make her loved by everyone.
In the morning, Stacey goes on to mention to her partner Keith how guys can look however they want and everyone loves them, but for women it’s a lot harder. She phones in sick to work as the rash gets worse, In fact, every bottle starts to ooze the liquid from before, running down the side of the box and engulfing the basement.
Keith sees the state of Stacey and her skin, and immediately exhibits concerns, believing she should go and see the doctor. He reassures her that she’s beautiful on the inside and out, but Stacey ignores him and heads down to the basement instead, intent on using more lotion.
Whilst there, she comes across a strange figure drenched in that lotion. It mirrors her every move and she ends up touching hands with it too.
When Stacey returns to the living room, she speaks to Keith one more time, who tells her how perfect she is… so Stacey stabs him in the head. She goes on to bash him upside the head multiple times and then submerges into a bath of that lotion. When Stacey returns, she becomes just like all the other women, only with a dead, taxidermic husband sitting on the sofa.
So now Stacey becomes another hollowed out caricature, just like she always wanted.. or does she? The fake laughter and the pain in her eyes are evidence enough that she’s made a huge mistake.
The Episode Review
This allegoric tale about fitting in and being like everyone else is… fine. It’s not exactly scary nor does it really have much in the way of horror content. The chapter itself is pretty good from a symbolic perspective but as the longest episode of the whole show, it’s easily the weakest.
The story did not need to be this long and while the idea is good, it soon runs out of steam and struggles to keep up momentum. Still, the ending is what saves this chapter and it helps to capture the essence of what it means to be “popular”, which in itself is another form of loneliness.