Cabinet of Curiosities
A couple studying the flight pattern of birds while grieving the loss of their child experience ghosts at an old house on a secluded island.
Spoiler Level: Mild
For the final episode of the first season of Cabinet of Curiosities the format returns to being based off of a short story, this time written by series creator, Guillermo del Toro with the teleplay written by Jennifer Kent who also directs. The story is a basic ghost story excellently crafted and executed with some wonderful symbolism and haunting visuals and almost more importantly, the importance of story over gruesome gore.
The plot isn’t anything that hasn’t already been done but with its own unique background. Distraught parents Edgar (Andrew Lincoln) and Nancy (Essie Davis) have lost a daughter about a year before the episode. The pair are also ornithologists studying the murmuring of birds. Murmuring is the seemingly coordinated flight pattern of birds into shapes and the couple is studying the mystery behind why they do this. The pair is staying in an old house on a secluded island where Nancy begins to see and hear strange sounds. This creates a rift between the couple who have pent up issues surrounding the death of their daughter, but they do truly love each other. Can they survive the horror of what happened in the house or succumb to their own grief?
The eighth episode fits right in with the rest of the series and is a fitting conclusion to the first season. It is different in one important respect, in that it doesn’t center around external horror, but the horror surrounding grief and loss. Although there are ghosts in this ghost story, the real terror for the pair is facing their own internal feelings and reconciling with the grief they bear. The performances are very strong with Essie Davis doing an excellent job as Nancy who hides her feelings, but you can see them right under the surface. She shies away from the touch of her husband, but you can still feel the love between them. Every look that the couple gives is a prime example of displaying subtext. I am a big Essie Davis fan who played the title role in the Australian series Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries which is one of my favorite shows.
After a couple of so-so episodes, the final entry returns to a wonderfully high quality written and directed with style and performed beautifully by the cast.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: The Murmuring
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Acting - 10/1010/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 9/109/10