Editor’s Note: Bloody Good Horror returns to the Fantasia International Film Festival to review some of the fest’s 2020 virtual offerings. If you’re a reader living in Canada, you can find more information about how to watch films and programs here. We would like to thank Fantasia for allowing us access to review these films.
Striking the perfect balance in today’s modern anthology film is a daunting task. One could posit Millennial and Gen Z’s attention spans are tailored to the forum, but sensibilities are a moving target and the margin for error is slim. It’s hard to say exactly where The Mortuary Collection will sit on the scale of acceptable modern anthologies, but one thing is certain and that’s that Ryan Spindell’s film is just some good old fashioned fun.
Clancy Brown stars as Montgomery Dark (perhaps the most perfect name anyone could have come up with for this character), a stoic and creepy mortician on the hunt for someone to take his mantle so he can move on to greener(?) pastures. In steps Sam (Caitlin Custer) who assures him she’s the girl for the job. Monty takes Sam for a tour of the premises while indulging her request that he regale her with some of his most twisted stories. Among them are tales of a gal who snoops in the wrong medicine cabinet, a sneaky college jock who cares little about the values of safe sex, a well to do hubby caring for his sickly wife, and a babysitter trying to survive a dangerous encounter.
Now, by those descriptions alone, they certainly don’t seem very horrific, but each entry written and directed by Ryan Spindell have their own ooey gooey surprises in store for the audience. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here: Lovecraftian influences, serial killers, accidental maiming, aliens, and a host looking like the Frankenstein-esque zombie corpse of Angus Scrimm. With Clancy Brown luring you down each corridor it’s nearly impossible not to tag along and see what the next nasty little yarn will entail.
As with all anthologies there's ups and downs. Unfortunately for The Mortuary Collection it's biggest asset lies in the final story (the one featuring the babysitter) so there's a bit of an uphill climb getting there. Still, even in the worst segment (the college boy who rightfully comes to regret a one night stand) there's plenty to appreciate. The central idea of the college jock's uncomfortable circumstance has teeth, it just felt a little misguided--and it's closing moments are sure to have every guy squirming in their seat.
Beyond the blood, guts, and other spectacular practical effects, The Mortuary Collection features a certifiably macabre sense of humor, which sometimes borders on full on parody. While it never fully crosses that line, the film’s sense of humor is part of what keeps some of the stories from fully taking shape. However, getting back to that delicate balance, it’s hard to say if some of the stories would work at all without the sense of humor or if they’d blend together as naturally as they do here.
The Mortuary Collection gathers together a quadruple amount of ghastly tales with a wraparound that rests comfortably into the mix. Could this be the next great anthology horror fans are salivating for? That remains to be seen, but it’s got all the tools to be just that with a little fine tuning of embalming fluid coursing through its veins.
Screened as part of the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival.