By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

If ‘curiosity’ is the central theme of Guillermo der Toro’s latest production, the 2022 horror anthology for Netflix, then its 7th episode displays that dangerous itch in the head for knowledge at its best. Curiosity killed the cat after all.

Titled ‘The Viewing’, the seventh chapter’s directed by Panos Cosmatos, who has co-written the script with Aaron Stewart-Ahn. ‘Stranger Things’ fans will be thrilled with the synth-pop music playing through the story that’s set in 1979. Four strangers are invited by the mysterious wealthy Lionel Lassiter (Peter Weller) for ‘a viewing’ to his massive futuristic mansion called ‘The Sandpiper House’. The first character viewers get to see on screen in scientist Charlotte Xi (Charlyne Yie), who looks like Velma from the Scooby-Doo cartoon has been brought to live. And then the four are driven to their host, and it appears as if the Scooby gang has hopped onto their mystery van to investigate something horrifying.

Once the four strangers arrive at the Sandpiper House, things get bizarre, unsettling, philosophical and a tad bit pretentious. Peter Weller’s Lioner Lassiter is an omnipotent host of sorts, who know exactly how his guests like their drinks and has the best stuff in the world to serve them. Sofia Boutella plays co-host Dr. Zahra, and together they all drink and do drugs to heighten their senses so they can be completely prepared for the ‘viewing’. Panos Cosmatos and team use tools and techniques that not only make the story look like it’s taking place in the 70s, but it also looks like it has been made in the 70s. The cinematography is grainy, with orange-yellow shades pervading each scene, as if you’re watching a remastered campy horror film from the past.

The cast is fantastic, Panos hand-picked actors he’s always wanted to work with. Eric Andre plays music producer Randall Roth, who isn’t confident about his next album; Steve Agee is cocky best-selling author Guy Landon who looks down at everybody with mirth and Michael Therriault plays the cooky psychic Targ Reinhhard. But something about a bunch of privileged people (even if talented) getting high with a billionaire and discussing random things was slightly snooze-y. There’s a lot of foreplay before the climactic horror, so the slow-burn built up to ‘The Viewing’ obviously gave me ample idea about what the end could possibly be like, but I was hoping to be surprised, to see something more insanely dramatic then what we are served. So the conclusion was a little predictable and oddly dissatisfying.

It’s a 6.5/10 from me for the 7th episode.

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