Fantasia 2020 review: ‘The Mortuary Collection’ is dark, twisted, and fun as hell.

On the cusp of retirement, an eccentric mortician recounts several of the strangest stories he’s encountered in his long career, but things take a turn for the phantasmagorical when he learns that the final story – is his own.

With a gorgeous opening sequence reminiscent of Creepshow and Spielberg‘s Amazing Stories, ( plus a blink and you’ll miss it homage to director Ryan Spindell as an easter egg) The Mortuary Collection was already going to be one of my favorites at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival 2020. Honestly, you had me at Clancy Brown, a man who haunted my youth in Pet Semetary 2. The visual textures are nothing short of delicious. This film oozes eerie but in a strangely friendly way. Brown’s overall aesthetic lies somewhere between Lurch and Phantasm‘s Tall Man. It’s beautiful for a genre fan.

This horror anthology is told in chronological era order. Each one stylized to high heaven in all it’s glory. The specificity and care in which the sequences are dressed, the minute details like a nautical wallpaper, or the name of a frat house is not to be ignored. But the homages did not end with the titles. Evil Dead, Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, The Shining, are only a few films that feel referenced. The performances are outstanding from every single cast member. But I’ll focus on Clancy Brown and Caitlin Custer, specifically. Brown in all his towering presence and booming voice glory is a mere half of this spectacular. His wise, seen it all manner of spookiness is nothing short of perfection. Custer’s smart-alecky persona is an excellent foil here. Her nonchalance both puts you at ease and tips you off to something darker. They are both undeniably incredible.

The Mortuary Collection presents us with morality tales wrapped in scary, unexpected delight. In no way whatsoever does it appear to have been made on an indie budget. It’s simply stunning to behold from every single angle. The practical fx are gross and gorgeous. The storytelling is both tongue-in-cheek and terror-filled. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more from Spindell except perhaps an entire franchise.

 

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.