Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 5/5
There are a number of good horror anthologies on the small screen. From the timeless episodes of Goosebumps to the delightfully sinister (and very underrated I may add) Channel Zero, there’s a lot of creativity in this space. That’s before even mentioning the classics like The Twilight Zone (the original, not the reboot!), which really started this whole movement off. On the whole, horror is one of the more creative endeavours to grace the TV space.
Guillermo Del Toro has an illustrious filmography which includes classics like Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water and Helboy, to name a few. When Netflix announced a horror anthology from the man himself – mixing his creativity with the imaginative space of horror – many people looked at this at the quintessential spooky pick for Halloween 2022. Having watched all 8 episodes, this one definitely doesn’t disappoint.
The show tackles all sorts of different themes from greed and corruption to vanity and loss. All of these emotions are woven across stylistically chapters with varying degrees of horror. Some work as more allegorical tales, like an hour long chapter that looks at beauty standards for women and the fear of being abandoned. Another episode is much more interested in a claustrophobic venture into the dark underground caverns of a graveyard, inhabited by a plague of rats.
Each chapter works to tell a very simple but ambiguous story and almost all of these end on some sort of cliffhanger. This actually serves the narrative incredibly well and promotes a lot of people to discuss this with their friends and loved ones, coming to different conclusions over what the tale is about or what sort of message they’re trying to tell.
Going back to that aforementioned beauty episode, the main protagonist feels empty but has a passion as a taxidermist in her free time. One could argue that the very idea of cutting out the insides from these animals and leaving them hollow works in tandem with how she views her life. And that’s before mentioning the animal in question is a duck, which are generally known as sociable creatures.
These sort of inclusions work incredibly well and help to set this apart from being just another “spooky anthology” and into something wholly more enjoyable and deep. Of course, not all the chapters work as effectively as others, and your favourites will likely differ. Personally, the final chapter – The Murmuring – is heads and tails above the rest of the show and is not only thematically sound, it’s also pretty scary too!
Visually, the show is great and each of the different episodes have a new Director, who is introduced courtesy of some Alfred Hitchcock-esque introductions from Guillermo Del Toro himself. Highlighting the Directors in this way shows the stylistic differences between each one.
In episode 7, with Panos Cosmatos in the driver’s seat, there’s a concerted effort to add a lot of distinct 80’s influences. Meanwhile, the “Graveyard Rats” episode, directed by Vincenzo Natali, uses a masterful use of lighting to really heighten the drama.
This won’t be for everyone and those after outright spooks and chills may not find it beyond the final episode and snippets here and there. Despite that though, this is a really solid anthology that has a good range of horror that should appeal to a wide audience. This isn’t the best horror offering to come this year, but it’s definitely one of the brighter stars to come out of 2022.
Verdict - 8/10