It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten a fairly high caliber anthology horror film. The last one for myself may have been 2012’s VHS, or even its sequel, VHS2. But nothing quite hit the mainstream like Trick ‘R Treat slowly did. A film that once played at Toronto After Dark back in 2009. There are a few things that need to hit in order for an anthology (horror) film works well. It’s to my belief that The Mortuary Collection hits all of them.
First off, you need a good or entertaining framing device. As much as I may have enjoyed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark earlier this year, the framing device isn’t necessarily that strong. This is also through my interpretation of Scary Stories by classifying it as an anthology film. An entertaining framing device helps with replay value. In other anthology films, you may only watch sections or segments of the film but won’t let the film play out. Portions may have replay value – but the film wouldn’t. And Mortuary Collection has that hands down. The film stars Caitlin Fisher as Sam as she enters a funeral home that Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown) is the sole mortician and worker in the home. Montgomery tells Sam that with each body that comes into the funeral home, there is a story attached – an explanation of how and why they died. And those are our four segments in the film.
The premise alone is enough to entice horror fans to watch the film. Not to mention the actual segments. From inspiration from Lovecraft to Sam Raimi, to just a great home invasion piece, the segments improve on one another. They have a specific style that doesn’t bleed over into the next short film. Each short film is very fun and entertaining and hooks you immediately. They also improve on the one prior. There’s a sequence in the third short film that takes place in an elevator that is jaw-droppingly beautiful. And a similar sequence in the final short that is just as pleasant for the eyes.
It’s not common for an anthology to be tackled by the same director. Think The Twilight Zone: The Movie that had four different filmmakers, so it’s a nice breather to see one filmmaker tackle the entirety of an anthology. And Ryan Spindell did a hell of a job with his film.
It’s been ten years since Trick ‘R Treat played at Toronto After Dark, and during the festival, they made comparisons for both films. They tried to pull back and not raise expectations, but I believe they should have leaned into it, and claim that history is meant to repeat itself. Another killer anthology films hail out of the festival, and I can’t wait for more people to see the film.