I love anthology films, especially horror anthologies. Whether it was the folktales your grandparents told you or the scary stories you told in the dark at sleepovers, the genre works well with small, self-contained stories. And that’s what you get in The Mortuary Collection: wonderful storytelling through four unique vignettes that are held together by a spooky mortician played by the iconic Clancy Brown.
The setting of The Mortuary Collection is simple. A young woman attends a funeral and seeks to become the mortician’s assistant. As he shows her around the grounds and details her duties, he shares stories meant to chill her with their memorable deaths. Each of the four stories brings us into vignettes that move chronologically from the 1950s through the 1980s. A ‘50s housewife struggles with a mysterious presence in her bathroom; a ‘60s college boy gets a taste of his own fraternizing medicine; a ‘70s husband makes some tough decisions about his wife. And finally, the climax of the film takes place in the ‘80s with “The Babysitter Murders,” a short that led director Ryan Spindell to be awarded Best Director at a past Fantastic Fest.
The beauty of these stories is two-fold. The first is that despite their obvious time period references, each vignette seems timeless—able to take place now as well as in the time it’s set. This is done effortlessly but adds an element of immersion and mystery in the same way that It Follows was able to. Through dialogue and set design, as well as theme, every short can exist at any point in time, while still beautifully representing the time period they’re set in.
The second highlight of the anthology is that every single short can exist on its own. Each vignette has a clear three-act structure that works to set them apart from each other as subject matter and color palettes change between them. The beautiful thing about The Mortuary Collection is that, even though their unique tones and different explorations of horror’s subgenres, they all feel like cohesive parts of a whole, all held together by an amazing wrap-around which is Brown’s mortician. The only gripe I have is that there is an introduction of children at the beginning that doesn’t wrap around the story in a seamless way like the mortician. That said, it’s a small note to an utterly brilliant anthology.
The Mortuary Collection has solid entries for body horror, creature feature, slasher, and psychological chills in each of its vignettes. Through the mortician, it also offers up a dark fairy tale air that makes the film extremely accessible to a variety of horror fans. It must also be noted that the vast majority of the film’s effects are practical which lends to its ability to pull its audience in and keep them captivated. From tentacles to exploding bodies and firey children, every bit of the special effects works perfectly.
From its cast to its script and visuals, The Mortuary Collection sings with the dark charm of Creepshow. In this charm, every vignette finds humorous notes for the audience to laugh at but never overdoes it. Instead, the humor accents the deeply dark situations that each of the characters find themselves in. With concepts of toxic patriarchy, marriage, and more, the stories are deeper than you first think.
Overall, The Mortuary Collection is a must-see for fans of horror, dark humor, and most importantly anthologies. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten an anthology film that truly understands the importance of storytelling, on both the small scale and the large, but this film corrects that. It’s simultaneously a fairy tale and a deep dark horror.
Distribution information has not yet been released for The Mortuary Collection.
The Mortuary Collection
The Mortuary Collection is a must-see for fans of horror, dark humor, and most importantly anthologies. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten an anthology film that truly understands the importance of storytelling, on both the small scale and the large, but this film corrects that. It’s simultaneously a fairy tale and a deep dark horror.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.