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 The Outside. The fourth mini-feature of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
A woman with self-esteem issues is contacted through her television with an opportunity to change herself with a special lotion.
Is Cabinet of Curiosities: The Outside (2022) Scary?
Not at all, The Outside doesn’t try to be scary and since it takes place during Christmas, it feels more like a comedy than horror. You won’t leave The Outside scared unless you recently made a bulk purchase of lotion because a television told you.
All of our Cabinet of Curiosities Explanations/Reviews:
This episode opens with our main character Stacey (played by Kate Micucci) home alone around Christmas time. After heating up some wings, she hears a sound in the basement and searches the house holding an axe. Not finding anyone, she calls her husband and police officer Keith, (played by Martin Starr).
He assures her there’s no one there and though she’s not fully convinced, he hangs up. The following day Stacey is at work at the bank and we meet her co-workers, who are essentially the Mean Girls all grown up. The head mean girl is even named Gina, probably short for Regina!
Before the end of the day, Stacey is invited to Gina’s Secret Santa Christmas party at her place the following day and she picks Gina’s name out of the hat. That means there are less than 24 hours for her to get a gift, so fuck that.
But Stacey already has a gift idea as we cut to the next day and she shoots a duck, did I forget to mention that Stacy has a taxidermy hobby?
As Stacey stuffs the duck, Keith arrives home and we learn of Stacey’s insecurities. She holds the Mean Girls in high regard and references their perfect skin but Keith essentially says Stacey is just as beautiful as they are.
Later at the party, Gina (played by Kylee Evans) gives everyone their secret santa gift which all appears to be the same exact gift and not at all how secret santa works. The good news is Gina isn’t a Mean girl about Stacey’s taxidermy duck gift and plays it off while thanking her.
The conversation quickly changes to the gift everyone else got which is this weird expensive lotion called Alo Glo. The women all start rubbing it on themselves and each other as Stacey looks on in confusion. Attempting to fit in, Stacey also rubs it on her face but has an immediate allergic reaction and rushes home.
That night Stacey can’t sleep from all the itching and decides to watch some tv but doesn’t notice the lotion in her bottle has seeped out on its own. A commercial for Alo Glo plays and the Alo Glo host (played by Dan Stevens) starts talking directly to Stacey. He tells her to call the number so she can buy more Alo Glo and change into someone beautiful.
Hilariously the other host (played by Chloe Madison) starts listing side effects which include hallucinations, internal emptiness, lack of individualization, and lack of independent thought and opinion but follows it up by saying it’s all worth it.
Stacey chuckles to herself thinking she was just hearing things but the Alo Glo host questions what’s so funny.
The Alo Glo host tells Stacey she can have a full body transformation by using Alo Glo but she’ll need to use more of it. She responds that it’s only made her itch but he says that means it’s working. The host manipulates Stacey into buying a whole case of it by playing on her insecurities.
The following morning, with speeds even Amazon can’t beat, the case arrives and Stacey hides it from Keith, bringing it down to the basement. Before Keith heads off to work he notices Stacey’s rash has gotten worse and suggests she stop using the lotion. Despite telling her there’s nothing wrong with her, Stacey tells him she’s going to change and wants his support.
Stacey continues using the lotion even though she’s clearly in pain. That night she heads downstairs to put on oven mitts to prevent herself from scratching and the Alo Glo host appears on the television. He tells her the lotion is working but she needs to let “it” grow.
The host asks that Stacey trust him and Stacey only questions if it’ll hurt. Playing on her insecurities, the host asks if it hurts whenever she’s excluded, when people stare at her, or when they point and laugh and whisper. He then asks if she wants to know what it feels like to be pretty.
The host tells Stacey to use more Alo Glo and the tv turns off. Stacey rushes to the basement but when she opens the box all the lotion pours out of the bottles on its own. Scared, Stacey runs back upstairs. Meanwhile, we see the lotion form into a ball overnight that appears to be coming to life.
The next day after Keith returns from work he sees Stacey’s rash has gotten worse and suggests they go to the doctor. Stacey argues with him, says it’s working and accuses him of insinuating she’s not pretty on the outside. Angry, she rushes downstairs and Stacey finds the Alo Glo blob is now a fully-fledged lotion person.
Stacey approaches it and it mimics all of her moves. I was pretty sure it was going to try to murder her but instead shit gets really weird when Stacy kisses it.
A short time later Stacey heads back upstairs covered in lotion and holding one of her taxidermy knives. Keith is shocked and angry that she used more lotion and tries to tell her, she’s perfect just the way she is and that he loves her. In a sort of trance, she says that means there’s something wrong with him and that’s it too late as “she” is already here.
Keith puts his foot down, tells her there is no one else there, and that he doesn’t want her to change. Stacey reacts rationally to this and STABS HIM IN THE FREAKING FOREHEAD. Still lucid, Keith’s first reaction is to ask, “What the fuck Stacey” and I think that’s a fair reaction.
Keith pulls the knife out and blood starts flowing out. Tip: Never pull out something that has been embedded into your body without the help of a medical professional. That item might be holding in some very important stuff like blood.
Stacey apologizes but her apology feels more in line with the kind of apology you give someone for stepping on their toes. Keith starts to lose consciousness and asks Stacey to get him a towel. As he calls for dispatch Stacey returns but the towel she’s carrying looks to be in the shape of an axe.
Crazed, Stacey kills Keith with a few axe swings to the back. In the bathroom, Stacey gets into the tub with the lotion person who completely turns into a pool of lotion. Stacey submerges herself into the lotion as she laughs.
That night Stacey emerges from the lotion completely changed and watches in excitement as her old skin falls off. She rushes to show Keith her new self but remembers he’s dead. So Stacey does what she does best and taxidermies him.
The next morning Stacey sets off to work and says goodbye to the Keith statue by the television. At the bank, everyone is shocked at Stacey’s new look and immediately accepts her into the Mean Girls.
Gina skirts around the question of “what the fuck” but ends with “you look so beautiful”. The Mean Girls, Stacey included, all start gossiping about their customers, and they all laugh. The lights around Stacey get brighter as she continues laughing and we see her façade break a bit but she continues laughing as the episode ends. Yes, Stacey has lost her damn mind.
The Outside is pretty good. The acting is great and the dialogue is pretty good. It’s definitely a slow burn but the story keeps you engaged enough that you feel for the main character and you’re constantly wondering how bad things will go for Stacey.
This is definitely more of a “be careful what you wish for” episode than a horror episode but the topic of self-esteem and societal pressure to look a certain way is well told. I would have liked more emphasis on Stacey’s spiral into madness that results in her killing Keith as that felt a bit out of left field. Sure, there’s a quick scene where the lotion is said to cause certain behaviors but we don’t see or get hints that anyone else is experiencing these side effects.
Also a bit of a negative was the episode felt pretty short and ended right when things were ramping up. It would have benefitted from an extra 15-20 minutes so we can see the full effects of Stacey’s action or at least see her realize what she’s done. Being only an hour long doesn’t ruin the episode but it does make it feel more like a fable than a story.
Overall I recommend giving The Outside a watch especially if you’re not looking for something scary to watch.
Stuff to Ignore
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