Review: The Mortuary Collection
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Clancy Brown stars in Ryan Spindell's gory and inventive horror anthology
Written by Katherine McLaughlin
A help wanted sign hangs outside Raven’s End Mortuary, a dark old house situated on the outskirts of an American port-side town, where an imposing mortician played by Clancy Brown carries out his work. When a young woman, Sam (Caitlin Fisher) answers the call for help, she is welcomed with open arms into his creaky, shadowy manor house where she is told three morality tales by the experienced male raconteur until finally, she is allowed to tell her own creepy story.
Director/writer Ryan Spindell has constructed an atmospheric and richly realised horror anthology consisting of a Lovecraftian tale, a play on STD horror, a gory vengeful bride story and a slasher. With each tale he ups the ante, offering up increasingly more blood, violence and vomit and placing a refreshing spin on stories we’ve seen played out numerous times over the decades. There's emphasis on the shifting tones and values of different eras of filmmaking, with nostalgic nods to the 1980s and the film reaching as far back to the 1940s. Without wanting to give too much away, the film turns the tables in surprisingly vicious ways as it allows Sam to pick apart horror tropes and upend the real-life things women have been taught to be scared of in gleefully perverse fashion. Everyone certainly gets their comeuppance and even the wraparound story is fantastically executed.
The building in which Sam and the creepy narrator wander, heading deeper into its gothic dark heart, is filled with stunning stained-glass windows and as menacing as things get the mortician’s abode remains strangely inviting. The set design by Karleigh Engelbrecht is to die for and the costumes, make-up, music and effects are impressively rendered and match the twisted nature of the tales across the board. The cunning casting of Jacob Elordi (the heartthrob from Netflix’s popular Kissing Booth franchise) works particularly well in the skanky frat boy role he is given and all the performances have a devilish charm to them.
The Mortuary Collection plays out as gloriously inventive, darkly funny and brutal payback for years of oppression and harassment by allowing its female characters liberation from the usual judgement placed on their behaviour. By switching things up it places the male characters in precarious positions and on the receiving end of violent treatment. Anthologies are hard to perfect, and even if this one runs a little too long it more than delivers on the horror and suspense. Highly recommended to fans of Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow or Michael Dougherty’s Halloween-set Trick ‘r Treat.
The Mortuary Collection is available to watch now on Shudder.
Director: Ryan Spindell
Writer: Ryan Spindell
Cast: Clancy Brown, Caitlin Fisher, Jacob Elordi, Christine Kilmer
Running Time: 108mins