Oh freaking hell, as much as I did not enjoy watching the third story in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the 2022 Netflix anthology, it was a chilling, dark, science-fiction horror tale. Trigger-warning: prepare your gut for a lot of mangled innards and gore.
Directed by David Prior, the third short titled ‘Autopsy’ is based on a story by Micheal Shea. The initial mood of ‘Autopsy’ was akin to a western, maybe because of the era it’s set in. Glynn Turman plays Nate, a cop looking into a string of strange missing persons’ cases; the investigation takes a bizarre turn when nine men die in a coal mine explosion and the tragedy appears to be linked to the disappearances. Murray Abraham plays Dr Carl, who conducts an autopsy on the corpses to help ascertain the cause of the deaths. But nothing prepares the doctor for what he is about to uncover during the postmortem.
Just like ‘Lot 36’ (the first episode), ‘Autopsy’ too takes time before things get intriguing and anxiety inducing. An old man cutting up the dead in a rundown remote facility that doesn’t even have a phone? The setting definitely calls for some dread. And the cinematography is simple, stark, which adds a sense of reality to the outlandish plot. In-fact, the first few seconds were surprisingly picturesque, the camera focuses on what looks like a lovely night sky filled with stars at first glimpse, but as the lens slowly zooms out, you realize it’s glistening coal. That brief sense of beauty is disrupted by an unexpected explosion at the mine, claiming several lives.
Now, I am no expert at human anatomy, but the creators don’t shy away from explicitly displaying organs being scooped by the doctor and they looked pretty authentic. So, there was a lot of blinking and looking away from the screen in quiet terror (yeah, not scream worthy though). Half of the story feels ‘old-school’ thriller and the rest of is sci-fi horror. ‘Autopsy’ gets a little cliched in the end, with some stale philosophical arguments, but a surprisingly triumphant climax makes for a satisfactory curtain call to the tale.
It’s a 7/10 from me for this episode.
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