Fantastic Fest 2019: ‘The Mortuary Collection’ is a Masterclass in Short-Form Horror [Review]
Ryan Spindell has been cranking out quality short films for years. So when I learned that he, along with a few frequent collaborators, would finally be premiering a new horror anthology at Fantastic Fest 2019, I was both excited and optimistic to say the least. But that excitement and optimism came with some well-warranted apprehension. After all, I’ve been following this particular project for nearly 4 years, and not much had been seen from it other than a 2015 trailer for a single entry in what would eventually become known as The Mortuary Collection.
Well—shame on me for ever doubting. Not only do I consider The Mortuary Collection to be one of the greatest horror anthologies of the past decade, I believe it should serve as a coming-out party of sorts for Spindell himself. It is apparent that he took his time in order to deliver the most capable and complete film that he possibly could—even if his approach is a bit unorthodox.
What sets The Mortuary Collection apart from countless other anthology releases is that each segment is written and directed by Ryan Spindell himself. That, along with only two cinematographers (Caleb Heymann and Elie Smolkin) working on the film, means that The Mortuary Collection feels much more like a single, feature film rather than a series of random or thematically-generated shorts stapled together in an anthology release. Thanks to so much of the crew (and even some cast members) pulling double-duty between segments, each one feels as though they truly belong in the same universe. The tone, writing, colors, and pace all come together in a whimsical and harmonious package full of twists, turns, and gruesome practical effects.
From a battle between a thief and a medicine cabinet to pointed commentary on birth control and marriage itself, The Mortuary Collection fires on all cylinders as it scorches through its nearly two hour runtime. The stories themselves often rely on humor or irony to make the ultimately savage punchlines a bit more palatable for wider audiences.
Are you looking to fill a giant Tales from the Crypt-sized hole in your heart? Is Shudder’s Creepshow revival not enough to satiate the horror hound within you? Then look no further than The Mortuary Collection.
The Mortuary Collection screened at the 2019 Fantastic Fest in Austin Texas. No formal release date has been announced. Stay tuned.