The Mortuary Collection is anthology horror at its finest, combining wry self-awareness, inventive effects, morbid humor, and outstanding performances to create a perfect Halloween movie. The inimitable Clancy Brown plays Montgomery Dark, the mortician for the eerie little town of Raven’s End and self-proclaimed “indentured servant to the Great Beyond.” Writer-director Ryan Spindell creates an intricate universe in Raven’s End, tying seemingly unrelated plot points and small details together to create a disturbing and delicious movie that rewards multiple viewings.
The tales in the anthology take the form of stories left behind by the corpses who have passed through the mortuary. When a young woman named Sam (Caitlin Custer) answers a Help Wanted sign hanging outside the dilapidated funeral home and challenges Dark to tell her some of his stories, he proudly obliges. The cheeky meta humor is a delight: in the grand tradition of EC Comics, Sam says she’s expecting “an ironic comeuppance or a big twist” in each story, and The Mortuary Collection delivers with cleverness and panache. Characters ranging from pickpockets to sleazy frat brothers to frustrated caregivers to terrified babysitters all meet brutal fates in this collection of creepy and wickedly funny horror stories.
The performances are stellar, with Clancy Brown unsurprisingly stealing the show as the bizarre mortician. In a hilarious and unsettling performance, Brown uses impeccably timed physical humor and modifies his legendary voice into a uniquely funny take on the measured solemnity of a funeral director. Other standouts include Jennifer Irwin as a long-suffering mother, Barak Hardley as a husband at the end of his rope, and Mike C. Nelson as a dubious physician, but every cast member shines in their respective segments.
There’s a sickly patina over the entire film courtesy of cinematographers Caleb Heymann and Elie Smolkin that gives it a timeless and otherworldly feel. Mondo Boys’ spooky, fanciful score adds to the impression that this is a movie that has existed for years and audiences are just now discovering its treats. There are subtle references to classic horror films, but they don’t date the movie at all; they simply add to its mystique as something that exists outside of the usual laws of nature. The Mortuary Collection feels like something has always been in the horror universe and is just now making itself known to suit its own purposes.
With plenty of twists, shocking moments of gore, and eerie suspense, The Mortuary Collection is an ideal way to celebrate Halloween (or any other day of the year). Clancy Brown turns in another incredible genre performance, and Ryan Spindell creates images and characters that horror fans won’t soon forget. This movie is everything you could ask for in a horror anthology and seems destined to be an annual favorite.
The Mortuary Collection is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.