Last Fall, I had the pleasure of checking out The Mortuary Collection as part of Cinapse’s Fantastic Fest coverage. With horror anthologies being a favorite subgenre of mine, I called the film “anthology horror at its best” and I didn’t make that claim lightly. With a compelling wraparound and no weak link contained in the segments, it was the true anomaly within the anthology realm. The humor is dark and delightful, the gore is bloody and visceral, and the tales contain the morality plays that good horror stories are built upon. In short, it was a highlight of my 2019 film viewings and I was extremely excited to see it was playing Fantasia this year, allowing me to jump back into it head first to see what the rewatch experience would be like, less than a year later.
I have the honor of saying that this is one hell of a rewatchable horror film, with my second viewing surpassing even the first. Before the gore hits, it sucks you in with a delightful, whimsical, and fun tone. The film is anchored by Clancy Brown’s Montgomery Dark, the funeral home director and mortician. He is the perfect blend of reliable, strong, and creepy. You want to trust him, like a grandpa, but you know he’s embellishing his stories, also like a grandpa. Caitlin Custer (of MTV’s Teen Wolf) is the co-lead, Sam, a young lady interested in applying for an open position at the mortuary. The two play off of each other with witty banter and a charming familiarity. Like Mr. Dark, she’s a character who seems to be just a little bit off, causing the viewer to be a bit reticent to trust her or her motives, as well. Rewatching these two on-screen in the wraparound story, it’s easy to feel like you’re there. They really suck you in and a second watch only strengthens this reality.
It surely doesn’t take long for the film to bring in some blood and guts, though. The morality tales warn against promiscuity, taking an “easy” way out of a difficult situation, and putting your trust in the wrong people. However, these tales, even as they are filled with viscera and gore, are told in an ever-playful manner. Each tale takes places in a different era, but the stories transcend those times and places. Writer/director Ryan Spindell certainly was intent to create a ghoulishly fun atmosphere that really gives the viewer that Halloween feeling. The laughs and scares abound and the stories never drag. With a recent push into the spotlight from his two-part 50 States of Fright entry, Scared Stiff, Spindell’s genius is sure to be a more well-known commodity in no time.
One this film gets a wide release, it’s a must-see for all horror fans and a perfect addition to anyone’s October playlist. Fans of anthology horror films need to find a way to see this immediately, in fact. Take my word, if you happen to be from Canada, get over and register to watch it as part of Fantasia Fest right now. Whether your first, second, or 15th watch, this movie is a hell of a good time.