The Mortuary Collection is a horror anthology that follows a mortician who, while vetting a prospective employee, tells her tales of some of the bodies that have passed through the mortuary.
The Mortuary Collection Review
After watching Dark Stories at Telluride Horror Show, I didn't think I would soon find a horror anthology to match it. Then The Mortuary Collection happened. And not only did it match Dark Stories, it exceeded it. The Mortuary Collection, like Dark Stories, has that self-awareness and quirkiness often found in horror anthologies. There is a common treatment used that has that aura of comedy and campiness throughout, and both of these anthologies ooze that in the interlocking event and the stories within. But Mortuary Collection just does it all a little bit better.
Mortuary Collection exceeds expectations in effects and story concepts and is more than passable in its writing and acting. Acting prowess isn't something common in horror anthologies as they almost exclusively operate on small budgets. With that in mind, Mortuary Collection more than holds its own. The scripts vary in quality from story to story, and even scene to scene, but when they aren't on-point, they are at least awkwardly funny.
The story concepts and effects are where the anthology really shines, which is generally where I measure the success of this particular subgenre. A quick breakdown of the tales within:
A thief at a dinner party of sorts goes through her winnings in the bathroom only to be disturbed by something lurking behind the mirror.
A misogynistic frat boy gets an unusual ailment after a night with a mysterious student.
A husband struggles to maintain his willingness to care for his long-ailing wife, but when the opportunity presents itself to rid him of his proverbial Hell, he takes it with dire consequences.
A woman is assailed by an intruder while babysitting children at night.
The first two are particularly unique, while the third uses the powerful storytelling and effects work to keep its narrative engaging, and the fourth relies on its very effective twist to drive the originality behind an otherwise seemingly predictable plot. (The last story was actually a short Efrit and I saw years ago at THS and they cleverly worked it into the narrative of the interlocking event of this film.) The common denominator between all of them, and the interlocking event, is that they were quite clever in concept and execution. There wasn't a story in this anthology that I wasn't fully engaged in and impressed with, and even the fairly extensive interlocking event was entertaining with the banter between the mortician and the prospect.
One of the major benefits of horror anthologies is that they are forgiving to poor execution, because if you didn't like one story, you have three or four more shots at having something to enjoy. But it is rare to have an anthology that is wholly entertaining from beginning to end, and that is certainly how I felt about Mortuary Collection. Was it flawless filmmaking? No. Could it be considered cinematic genius, objectively? Not at all. But it took the medium of horror anthologies and honed/refined it to near-perfection. It basically achieved exactly what it set out to do.
So did it fail at anything? Sure. The style of filmmaking didn't make for many authentically scary moments. The campiness is so thick and prevalent throughout that there aren't many opportunities for legitimate moments of terror. Most of the horror is in the themes and the grotesque effects work. And for an anthology film with an apparent and purposefully farcical voice and style, this wasn't as bothersome, but worth noting. If you are looking for terror in your anthologies, the V/H/S series is your best route. But if you're looking for a whacky and gruesome good time on your Halloween night, Mortuary Collection might be for you.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10 Horror Quality: 6/10 Film Quality: 6/10