“The form may be familiar, but the message is timeless.”
The Mortuary Collection, directed by Ryan Spindell, is a film that played at Toronto After Dark back in 2019 (if you like this review, go check out Andres’ review from the actual festival), but gets its official release on Shudder on October 15th, 2020. Not since Trick R’ Treat (2007) and V/H/S (2012) have we gotten an entertaining, spooky and mildly comedic horror anthology.
The Mortuary Collection tells the story (four stories, to be exact) of a young woman named Sam (Caitlin Custer, Cinema Verite) who applies for a job at a local mortuary run by Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown, The Shawshank Redemption, Thor: Ragnarok). There, the creepy old mortician tells her four tales of the macabre, each depicting how – and why – a body ended up on the mortician’s cold table.
The segments include a thieving young woman who encounters a strange creature behind a bathroom mirror, a toxic frat boy who finds himself pregnant after a night of unprotected sex, a man who grows tired of taking care of his ailing wife, and a babysitter who becomes the next victim of an escaped mental patient. The segments themselves are based on several short films directed by Spindell, and vary in genre from fantasy to straight-up slasher.
Like any good anthology, the segments all build upon each other, each one longer and more gruesome than the last. There were some genuinely shocking moments (including one in the second chapter, involving a character played by Jacob Elordi (Euphoria, The Kissing Booth), which may or may not have scarred me for life). But it’s the last two segments where the film really picks up, and we’re treated to some beautiful editing, cinematography and more than a few wicked plot twists. You can tell Ryan Spindell knows what he’s doing behind a camera, and I hope we continue seeing full-length features from him. Even though the segments all contain very different depictions of death, at the end of the day, they all say the same thing: that death is inevitable, and can be lurking around any corner. That’s right, kids!
All in all, The Mortuary Collection ended up being an engaging and entertaining watch. Reminiscent of other horror movies we already know and love, it isn’t a film you have to think too hard on, but one you’ll undoubtedly find yourself having a good time with.