Tales of Dread and Horror!
In the gothic town of Raven’s End there lies a mortuary run by an eccentric old man named Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown). He views himself as the keeper of the dead, but most importantly, as the keeper of their stories. He has advertised for Help and a young, pretty lady named Sam (Caitlin Custer) comes along to apply for the job. She asks him to regale her with some of these stories he brags about, and Dark does just that, telling three tales of escalating terror. The first involves a monster hidden behind a mirror, the second involves a one-night stand that goes terribly wrong, and the third is a tale of marital vows and the deadly promise of “’til death do us part.” Sam likes the stories, each one better than the last, she tells him. But she is not totally impressed. What of the dead body in the basement, the one they are about to send to the crematorium? Dark balks, assuring her this is a tale far too terrifying. She insists. And it is in this telling that we learn why Sam is there in the first place, and how her story wraps up into the story of the corpse ready for the fire. And it is here where both Sam and Dark discover their destinies.
The Mortuary Collection is a very cool and very fun little horror anthology that builds as it goes along. It starts with a simple premise and an even simpler first story and goes from there. Each tale is whimsical and terrifying, in equal measures. There’s this weird layering of 1950s-style settings, of white-bread Americana tainted with a virulent, underlying darkness. The tales are told with zest and glee, each one tumbling the viewer forward to their horrific conclusions. The monster behind the mirror is direct and straightforward, with little to no explanation. The one-night stand gone wrong is a cautionary tale of feminism and comeuppance, where we learn to always be careful and never wrong the, uh, wrong person. The most endearing and perhaps most deeply horrifying tale is the story of the married couple. It is both heartbreaking and full of anguish, never mind the escalating terror. And then the final story is a crafty spin on the slasher story, of the babysitter murders and the escaped lunatic from the asylum. All in all, while this isn’t the kind of anthology that will blow your mind with amazingly clever twists and turns, it is a more than solid affair, with plenty of whings and dings to recommend it. The atmospherics of each tale alone is worth watching it for, and yes, the stories do go someplace dark and cruel. I liked the way it built on itself, each story better than the last. Mostly, there’s a lot of heart and soul in this, and that carries it a long, long way.
If you’re looking for a good, spooky anthology for the Halloween season, one peppered with bits of body horror, dashes of gore, and heaping helpings of creeping, dark atmosphere, then you’ve found a home. This Mortuary opens its door to those craving tales of the unknown, of the sinister and dreadful. You’ll get those, and more. You’ll probably get your heart broken, even as you laugh and scream with delight. Step into the Mortuary…if you dare…