An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at Netflix’s Lot 36. The first mini-feature of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
Down on his luck, a man purchases a decades old storage unit, Lot 36, in order to help pay off a debt but it contains more deadly secrets than he ever imagined.
Is Cabinet of Curiosities Lot 36 Scary?
No, there are a few jump scares but they’re at the very end since the show relies on building the story and characters. There is a building sense of “shit’s about the hit fan” but nothing that will scare you. The ending itself is more satisfying than scary so in the end you won’t leave it scared unless you’re on your way to a storage unit.
All of our Cabinet of Curiosities Explanations/Reviews:
The episode opens on an elderly man who owns lot 36, a storage unit, entering his kitchen and cutting up some chickens. He drops one of the heads, has a heart attack, and dies.
Cut to our main character Nick (played by Tim Blake Nelson) driving to a 24-hour storage center while listening to and agreeing to some racist shit on the radio. Inside, he enters an auction for Lot 36 and wins it, though we later find out he and, apparently the only employee, Eddie (played by Demetris Grosse) have an arrangement. Eddie helps him get units and Nick sells the items inside, with Eddie getting a cut.
As Eddie gets all the paperwork set up for Lot 36, Nick calls someone and it’s clear he owes them a lot of money. Whoever they are, they’re watching him and they tell him he has until that night to get the money. Nick hangs up and gives Eddie his cut of the money for the last unit. Before Eddie gives him the keys to Lot 36 he asks to show him something.
The video shows the elderly man from the beginning entering the unit but hopping 3 times before entering with Tupperware. Thirty to forty-five minutes later he exits with the Tupperware empty. Eddie tells Nick the guy was doing this every day for decades. Nick doesn’t care, says he’s seen weird shit before, and leaves with the keys.
A Hispanic woman named Emilia (played by Elpidia Carrillo) enters and tells Eddie she’s ready to pay the next two months on her storage unit rent but it turns out Eddie mistakenly sold it. Who did he sell it to? That’s right, the intolerant Nick.
Emilia heads outside and asks Nick to let her check her old unit (lot 87) and at least take her family photo albums out. He tells her he sold some stuff, threw out other stuff, and whatever is left is his. She begs him to let her check but he tells her it’ll cost $1000. When she says she doesn’t have the money, he gives her the old lock that was cut off from her unit.
As he walks away, Emilia, in Spanish, asks what kind of man he is. Nick resorts to racist talking points asking where she’s from and telling her to learn to speak English. I guess he forgot the whole conversation they just had was in English. Before heading inside he calls her a dumb bitch and Emilia tells him she hopes he rots in hell.
Entering lot 36, Nick finds it filled with a bunch of stuff including a photo album that shows the elderly man from the beginning was a Nazi. So Nick probably would have been good friends with the guy. Nick also realizes that the unit is smaller than the others on the same strip but, Eddie tells him none of the units are really the same as they were built in the 40s.
After throwing out a bunch of stuff, Nick finds a candelabra, a wreath, antique chairs, and a table that he thinks he can sell.
As he packs it onto his truck, he’s attacked by the person he owes money to and is told he now owes 12 thousand by tomorrow noon. The man hits Nick on the head with the butt of a hammer and smashes his car window and windshield.
Before heading back inside the storage unit facility, Nick spots Emilia watching and yells at her to leave. What is she still doing there? Inside, Nick patches himself up and Eddie gives him the address to an appraiser named Agatha (played by Martha Burns) whom he knows.
At Agatha’s, she says the candelabra isn’t that valuable and the wreath is made of human hair. As they examine the table which she says is a séance table (knew it!), it opens a secret compartment containing 3 rare Latin books.
Agatha calls her friend Roland (played by Sebastian Roche) to take a look at the books. While she does that, Nick looks through one of the books and it’s clear they’re for demonic rituals. Roland arrives and is extremely excited about the books offering 10 grand for the three but asks if there was a fourth book.
Apparently, the fourth book is the most important and rarest since it can be used to bind a demon. Usually, the book burns to a crisp once a transaction with a demon is complete but if the demon is betrayed then the book stays intact.
Nick doesn’t believe in any of that shit but he does believe in the 300 thousand dollars Roland offers for the complete set. Since Nick believes the book may be in the unit, the two set off to the storage unit to search together.
On their drive, Roland tells Nick he knows all about the family who owned Lot 36. Apparently, decades ago, the elderly man from the beginning, was heavily into the occult and offered a demon his sister, Dottie, as a host. After that, Dottie was never heard from again.
At the unit, the two search and discover the back wall is a fake. As Nick opens it, Roland reveals he brought the candelabra and adds some candles. Lighting it, he says that the light from it will protect them from the book. The wall reveals a hidden passageway releasing a disgusting smell and it appears Roland thinks there’s a demon since he warns Nick to not look at “it” in the eyes. At the end of the passageway, the two find Dottie and she’s in a pretty bad way.
Roland tells Nick that the demon is hungry and hiding in the cavity where the face used to be. The camera zooms over it and we see some kind of tentacles crawling around in there. Nick spots the book across the room and goes for it despite Roland telling him to not cross the lines drawn on the ground.
Dottie immediately eats Roland and the book ignites into flames. Nick runs off and the demon chases after him. Reaching a door, he finds it locked but Emilia appears right outside. Seriously what the fuck is she still doing there.
Nick begs her to open the door but she pulls out the lock Nick gave her earlier and adds it to the door. She then walks away as Nick hears the demon approaching.
Nick runs down the hall and the demon catches him. The episode ends as the demon eats and kills Nick.
Lot 36 is good. It is pretty short only about 45 minutes in length which at times feels a bit too long. There are a few scenes of Nick just throwing stuff out where nothing really happens. The only reason I think Lot 36 is good is because it feels like one of those old Twilight Zone episodes and also like a story you’d tell around a campfire.
The acting and dialogue work throughout and the story is well-told and well-paced… most of the time. Tim Blake Nelson is great as a protagonist that you definitely don’t like but has obviously been beaten down by life so you feel a bit for him. Since the episode is so short you don’t learn too much about his ignorance and possible racist views which is a good thing as you don’t step fully into the hating him territory.
The monster/demon design at the end is pretty good though it does feel like a bit of a cop out making it just tentacles coming from a face. The lead up to it with Dottie completely missing her face was more creepy than the actual monster. Again, since the episode is so short you don’t end up having enough time to judge the design too much or become desensitized to it.
Overall I recommend giving Lot 36 a watch, it’s not too creepy or scary but it’s entertaining and a great short story for Halloween.
Stuff to Ignore
Rotten Tomatoes – No Score
Metacritic – No Score