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Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, recap of episode 1 – “Lot 36”

October 25, 2022

We recap the Netflix Horror anthology series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 1, “Lot 36,” which contains spoilers.

The horror genre and the anthology series seem to go hand in hand, which works wonders for shows such as black mirror, Interior No. 9, and Love, death and robots. Yet this perfect marriage of concepts has been working for decades now, with The twilight zone and Alfred Hitchcock presents being just a few of the pioneers in this particular field. The latter gets the tribute treatment in the Netflix anthology series Cabinet of curiosities by Guillermo del Torowith Guillermo del Toro himself presenting this alluring premise to us in person, just as Hitchcock once did.

Guillermo del Toro’s cabinet of curiosities season 1, episode 1 recap

Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) walks towards the camera, paying homage to the beloved author Alfred Hitchcockthat would introduce every episode of the 50s anthology series Alfred Hitchcock presents in a similar way. Del Toro explains the story behind these cabinets of curiosities, which were elaborate pieces of furniture that housed collections including books, paintings, and artifacts. Items inside can be as large as armor or as small as a set of keys. The first in del Toro’s anthology series presentation focuses on a set of storage unit keys. Del Toro then announces the title of the episode and the director of the episode. “Lot 36” is made by a frequent collaborator Guillermo Navarre.

The episode begins with the owner of Lot 36 collapsing in his messy apartment. Nick Appleton (Tim Blake Nelson) is informed that this specific unit is a hoard of collectibles and therefore bids heavily on the lot, buying all the contents that can be found inside. Nick is presented as a racist veteran, who owes a lot of money to the wrong people. He made a living by seizing these lots and then selling the antiques found inside. After buying the lot, he sees a video of storage unit owner Eddie.

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A grainy VHS tape shows the former owner visiting daily and dropping off a bag of items. Adding an extra layer of unease to the proceedings, the lot owner seems to be moving in and out of the storage unit like a loon. Nick doesn’t have time for this alarmist and quickly begins rummaging through the piles of boxes and furniture, sorting the contents into piles, looking for valuables that make money. And he hit the jackpot this time around, finding Nazi photographs, an antique candelabra and a table with a pentagram symbol carved into its surface.

Meanwhile, Eddie gets into an altercation with another storage unit owner, Amelia, who may be of Mexican or Spanish descent. She was behind on her payments and Eddie accidentally sold her land to Nick before contacting her about her eviction notice. Eddie suggests that Amelia talk to Nick about getting back some of her family’s possessions. Of course, Nick is fierce with her and won’t return any precious family photos or letters. He demands a payment of a grand for leftovers, which Amelia cannot afford. The argument tackles themes of property and American law, while veering towards racism towards the end.

Nick ignores Amelia’s calls and packs his truck with the precious cargo, preparing to meet a potential buyer that night. On the way out, Nick is attacked and his truck vandalized. The thug is asking for twelve thousand dollars by tomorrow or otherwise. As Nick applies first aid to his wounds, Eddie suggests his own collector, a woman named Agatha. Nick then meets this antique dealer and offers her his most beautiful pieces. She points to the sitting table and finds a hidden drawer underneath. The drawer contains three books on demonic spells and symbols, but a fourth is missing.

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Agatha calls on her occult specialist, Roland. He rushes over and pays for the items. The three old books are worth a lot, but if he can acquire the fourth, he will pay him $300,000. The suspicious Collector and Nick quickly return to the field and search for the elusive book. On their way, Roland provides a story about the previous owner. A weapon maker for Germany, who dabbled in the occult and attempted to possess his sister no less. Nick doesn’t buy into the supernatural story, but is desperate for money, so he shuts up.

The end

Nick and Roland once again investigate the grounds and find a hidden door. The doorway leads to a passageway, with crosses and biblical pages lining the walls. At the end of this winding passage, they find a corpse nailed to the ground, presumably that of the owner’s sister. A demon swirls inside the sister’s hollowed-out head, and the fourth book rests on a rack across the room. Holding the lit candelabra, Roland warns Nick not to cross the threshold, but he can’t help himself. Nick slips the book and wakes the demon.

The tentacles start coming out of the hole and the demon gets up. Poor Roland is attacked and devoured, while the fourth book catches fire. Nick turns around and stomps on him, running out of the unit. The monster chases him. Those pesky lights go out and Nick finds himself lost in a maze of dark hallways. He finally makes it to the exit, although the door is locked. Amelia is hiding on the other side. Nick begs her to open the door, but she leaves, offering her own form of payback. Nick returns for another exit and is attacked by the demon who presumably kills the racist.

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What did you think of Season 1, Episode 1 of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities? Comments below.

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