The Mortuary Collection (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Mortuary Collection (2019) Review

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on April 29th, 2021 | Movie Review | Psychological, Medical, Gore, Anthology

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An undertaker tells a new employee the gruesome tales of the dead people he’s come across over the years.

The Mortuary Collection was directed by Ryan Spindell (known for horror-short Kirksdale) and stars Barak Hardley (from Show Yourself), Jacob Elordi, Brennan Murray, Ema Horvath (from Like.Share.Follow) and Michael Bow.

Every Corpse has a Story

The Mortuary Collection Review

Writer/director Ryan Spindell created a horror short in 2015 called The Babysitter Murders, aptly named after Halloween’s working title. Much of the short is dedicated to and reminiscent of - and at times, completely matching - Halloween, but with its own unique twist. This short went on to be the wraparound story for his first feature film, The Mortuary Collection - an anthology film whose vibe begins fun and wistful akin to an adult version of Are You Afraid of the Dark, but quickly turns into a much darker version of American Horror Story.

Montgomery Dark (perfectly cast Clancy Brown), a mortician who looks as dead as the bodies he embalms, is surprised when a young, vibrant woman named Sam arrives during a child’s funeral and applies for an apprenticeship at his funeral home. Sam wants him to tell her stories of his funeral subjects that will shock and scare her, and he starts with a one-person story about a thief in the 50s era who is killed by a Demagorgon-esque creature. When that story proves underwhelming for her, he tells a longer, much bloodier story where a douchey frat guy in the 60s has unprotected sex that leads to a shocking turn of events. The next story is almost sad, following a man who tries to gently kill his catatonic wife in an effort to escape the hell he’s living in caring for her, but he just can’t get it right. It soon becomes clear that all of the stories are that of guilty people having revenge exacted upon them in supernatural ways, and stops just short of the seven deadly sins premise from Se7en.

Each story gets darker and gorier while remaining entertaining through great acting and interesting subject matter - familiar concepts with fresh spins. But when the wraparound story arrived and showed how each of the stories connected, and what Sam was really looking for at the mortuary, I was truly shocked with just how twisted it got. I said, out loud, “that’s f*cked up.”

Much of the movie is inspired by 90s horror, from The Sixth Sense to Scream, to a splash of the 80s with Creepshow; even though the material is too sick and the gore too visceral for this to be a blockbuster, it maintains that blockbuster feel from the direction, cinematography, and the spooky, nostalgic score. Each story has new characters that we instantly come to know and care about - whether that means we want them to survive or die - and Spindell, along with costume designers Tammie Merheb, Savannah Kay Gordon, and Brooke Llewyn move through the different eras of time with ease. 

Like most horror movies, there’s a twist at the end - and that’s followed by another twist, and the multi-dimensional layers to the story were well executed. It’s not something you have to sit and mull over for days, but there’s more to it than I expected. There’s even some opportunity there for a prequel, if Spindell ever wanted to delve into Montgomery’s backstory.

Worth Watching?

This would be the perfect movie to watch in October. It captures a Halloween vibe without having anything to do with the holiday. Add it to your repertoire, with a fair warning of child-death subject matter. 

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