Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 recap – “Pickman’s Model”

October 27, 2022
Adam Lock 1
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Recaps
2.5

Summary

“Pickman’s Model” is quite a disjointed chapter, with some distracting accent work and a repetitive narrative structure. There are a few examples of gory horror within this installment that impress, but it is far too long and forgettable to have any overall impact.

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2.5

Summary

“Pickman’s Model” is quite a disjointed chapter, with some distracting accent work and a repetitive narrative structure. There are a few examples of gory horror within this installment that impress, but it is far too long and forgettable to have any overall impact.

We recap the Netflix Horror anthological series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5, “Pickman’s Model,” which contains spoilers and the ending.

Darkness has a way of clinging to us. Horror movie moments tend to stick with us more than, say, those found in a rom-com, while horrific events linger longer in the mind. In “Pickman’s Model,” an optimistic, jovial man slowly loses his mind after looking upon a fellow artist’s work. The paintings start to haunt our up-and-coming art student and send him on a journey toward madness. The fifth installment in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities anthology series is based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, another one of del Toro’s idols, and is directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil).

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 recap

Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 opens in 1909 in Arkham, Massachusetts. William Thurber (Ben Barnes) is a successful, emerging artist studying at the local university. His life is on an upward trajectory until a new student, called Richard Pickman (Crispin Glover) starts attending the very same art class. In his very first lesson, William is amazed by Pickman’s aggressive style and haunting drawing. The other students giggle at his odd ways, but William is fascinated.

They first speak at a graveyard, no less, which is where Pickman likes to draw the dead. Pickman admits that he has no interest in winning the upcoming art contest but is obsessed with the occult and the supernatural. He shows William his drawings, depicting monsters and undead creatures. William is inspired by these paintings but can’t quite replicate Pickman’s unique style. The staff at the university aren’t as impressed though, and storm off after witnessing his competition entry. William goes to commiserate with poor Pickman and is invited to his place that night.

William is shown Pickman’s troubling collection. The creep explains how a relative of his was burnt at the stake, branded a witch, and he felt compelled to draw her. However, the paintings have a profound effect on William, he starts to hear voices and horrific sounds. The paintings then start to move and he runs away to vomit outside. This unusual reaction mixed with some heavy drinking leads to a painful hangover and William sleeping in. He finds himself late to his girlfriend’s party and rushes over.

At the party, Rebecca introduces her close ‘friend’ to her family members, but William is still feeling the after effects of the night before. He has glimpses of a dark figure roaming the grounds and receives terrible déjà vu when faced with Rebecca’s father. Did he see this man fornicating the previous night? Feeling rather jumpy, William stumbles backwards and tries to leave. Rebecca follows, absolutely traumatized by William’s confused antics. The episode then moves forwards to 1926, where the couple are now married. That odd family gathering clearly didn’t put her off. Later it is implied that William quit drinking and improved mentally once Pickman was out of his life. Although the haunting painter soon returns.

William is sent another one of Pickman’s pieces, nearly seventeen years later. The discussing artwork causes William and his son to have terrifying, vivid nightmares. William envisions a gruesome feast crawling with insects and crustaceans, then later dreams of being decapitated by the witch. These dreams are well constructed and genuinely horrifying. William quickly has the painting returned to the original sender, but Pickman is back for good. The committee want to exhibit Pickman’s work and William returns home one day to find the artist chatting with his wife at his dinner table. Rebecca worries William is drinking again and he confesses that Pickman’s darkness is contagious. It is taking a hold of him once more.

Fearing no end to this hell, William confronts Pickman, demanding he stays away from their family. Pickman states that he values William’s judgment and wants him to critique his latest pieces. He makes him an offer he cannot refuse, come and look at my work and then I will be out of your life for good. William jumps at the opportunity and heads over to Pickman’s abode. The scene is set, it’s the pitch black of night and the electricity is cut. The two head into Pickman’s ominous gallery lit by candlelight.

William hears those strange, disturbing noises once again and the squeaking of rats. He starts to pour gasoline onto Pickman’s work and admits that the paintings have infected his mind. Pickman doesn’t seem too offended, remarking that it is only art after all. But then he talks of fear living within this place. Panicked by Pickman’s actions, William shoots the artist and begins to burn his collection of paintings. A monster then appears from the dark and drags Pickman into a well. William escapes unharmed.

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 ending

It’s the day of the exhibition and William is pleased that Pickman’s works have perished. He shows his family around the place but then starts to glimpse those horrifying paintings again. Running over to Joe, the one who commissioned this work, William is horrified to see that Joe has become possessed. With one gory, dislodged eye adding to the grim scene. Joe talks of a coming darkness, implying that Pickman is communicating with the land of the living through Joe’s body, forcing Joe to recreate his paintings. William demands all the paintings are burned immediately and takes his family home.

Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 ends with William apologizing to his wife, who is busy in the kitchen. She turns around to reveal that she has also fallen under the spell. Her face is bloody, and her eyes appear to be missing. Rebecca states that she is preparing a feast, and it is strongly inferred that she is cooking their son.

What did you think of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5? Comment below.


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1 thought on “Cabinet of Curiosities season 1, episode 5 recap – “Pickman’s Model”

  • October 27, 2022 at 9:52 pm
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    Not cooking for their son. She’s cooking their son. He IS the meal…

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