The Mortuary Collection
the mortuary collection | ryan spindell | clancy brown | caitlin custer | mike c. nelson | anthology | cosmic horror | lovecraftian | monster | creature | haunting | cannibal | fantasy | united states | eden campbell | tristan byon | hannah r. loyd | history
Film: The Mortuary Collection
Director: Ryan Spindell
Writer: Ryan Spindell
Starring: Clancy Brown, Caitlin Custer and Mike C. Nelson
For this movie, I heard about it around Halloween and it was one that I was intrigued to check out. I knew this movie was an anthology, which when done right I'm usually a fan of. I also got the chance to hear an interview of the writer/director Ryan Spindell on a podcast. Hearing how passionate he was for this project, it really made me want to see it as well. Most everyone was pretty high on this as well which boded well for me. The synopsis here is an eccentric mortician recounts several macabre and phantasmagorical tales that he's encountered in his distinguished career.
We start this off following a paperboy as he makes his way through Raven’s End. His name is Bill (Tristan Byon) and we get a taste of the town as he rides through. His journey takes him to the Raven's End Mortuary that is located in the woods. There are a bunch of papers so Bill decides to go up to the door. He gets scared off by the mortician who runs the place, Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown). Bill drops his camera and Montgomery keeps it when he leaves.
He then presides over a funeral for a child and there's something that he says that throws off those in attendance to the point where many of them cannot look at him as they leave. He thinks that everyone is gone when he discovers Sam (Caitlin Custer) in the showing room. Montgomery asks if she is there showing her respects, but she reveals she is answering the ad for a job. He takes her into the office and she inquires about all of the books. This causes Montgomery to tell her that they all contain the stories of how and why all those that comes through the doors end up there. Sam wants him to tell her a story, which he is reluctant to do, but gives in.
This is where the movie starts to break into the 4 stories of this anthology with the wraparound Montgomery showing her around. The first tale is Emma (Christine Kilmer) going into the bathroom. There's a knock at the door and she tells the guy that she's meet up with him in 10 minutes. She notices a weird slime on the light switch. We see that she's someone who is up to no good and there's something quite odd in this bathroom with her.
The story after this involves a fraternity where Jake (Jacob Elordi) has quite a lot of success with the ladies. Things all change when he meets Sandra (Ema Horvath). They go to hook up and she wants him to wear a condom. When he doesn't, he gets a horrible surprise as the tables are turned.
Then we go to a story of a newly married couple of Carol (Sarah Hay) and Wendell (Barak Hardley). Things went south pretty fast. Carol is in a comatose state and Wendell is struggling to not only take care of her, but to also pay all the bills for her treatments. That is until Dr. Harold Kubler (Mike C. Nelson) offers an alternative.
For the final story, Sam takes the reins as it turns out she did know the little boy's who funeral just happened. She tells the tale of what happened the night he passed away and the riot that was on a newspaper headline at the local mental hospital as well. Things aren't necessarily as we seem there as Montgomery is impressed with her story telling ability.
Now that's where I'm going to leave my recap of the movie as that gets you up to speed with everything with it. I will say I really liked what this movie was doing here. For me, I prefer to have my anthology films to have a wraparound and this one feels lot like Tales from the Hood. What I mean there as that we're in a mortuary, the tales are mostly being told by our mortician and then the final tale involves our character much like that one did. That is really not a bad thing at all. I'm a fan of Tales from the Hood so taking a page out of that book while doing something works for me. We also are learning the tales of people that have come to this mortuary for their final resting place.
This is one in the vein of Tales or like Creepshow where all of the shorts are written by the same person and directed with one vision for them as well. In the case here, Spindell did both of them so that works well for a singular vision. These stories feel a lot like you'd get in the old EC Comics where they're cautionary tale. This movie is smart though that it has come out well after them where Sam calls out Montgomery for them. The first story is quite short compared to the others and Sam states she wants more. It is fine, but nothing special. As the others go on, I like the Meta approach where it is someone doing a bad deed and them being punished for it. It works well for the final one for sure.
The last thing I'll say here is that we get a nice combination of stories. We get a bit of cosmic horror, which is a sub-genre I've been really getting into more of lately and I liked seeing it. There's also a bit of creature feature here and social commentary through flipping gender roles. I also like what they do with the couple and how wild things end up there. It also goes a bit supernatural that I can appreciate. The final story and how it ties in with the wraparound really just completed the movie for me. What I haven't said is that I believe this movie takes place in the 1950's or the early 60's. It still has a timeless feel as they don't shove it down your throat.
Where I want to go next would be the acting. I love that Brown is taking on Montgomery here and being our story teller. He has such a great screen presence and how he plays this role is perfect. This is a character I wouldn't be mad to see again and have another movie with him. Custer was really good as well. Her character change by the end worked for me. She also calls out Montgomery and she brings some sass to the role. She pulls out the Meta aspects on top of it. Aside from this, I think that the rest of the acting is well done. Being that it is shorts, the writing helps to establish the characters and their performances convey what they need in the short time given for me.
The last thing that I really want to go over would be effects. The practical ones that we get look good. There isn't a lot of gore, but we do get a fair amount of blood. There are also some creature effects that are done here as well. What doesn't necessarily hold up for me is the CGI. There is some green screen that I noticed and didn't look great. There is a bit I think used here and there throughout the movie. This didn't look as bad, but I'm still not fan when I noticed it.
So now with that said this movie was really a pleasant surprise. Something I led off saying was that when anthologies are done right, I'm on board. I liked the 4 stories that we got and how the wraparound factored in there in the end. The acting really helps to bring it to life. The practical effects were good and the CGI doesn't necessarily work for me. It doesn't necessarily ruin it though either. I would also say that the sound design and soundtrack worked as well. We get a nice mix here and I thought this movie was a really good movie that is bordering again on being great.
My Rating: 9 out of 10