Panos Cosmatos didn’t have to go that hard in Netflix’s Cabinet of Curiosities
“The Viewing” might be the best sci-fi thriller of 2022.
Four people meet in a dark parking lot. They’ve never met each other before, but the one thing they have in common is that they’ve all been talk-show guests. As the night unfolds, we never truly learn why this group of artists and scientists has been assembled, but it ultimately fails to matter in the face of unspeakable sci-fi horror.
“The Viewing” is just one of eight entries in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology series streaming now on Netflix. But it’s by far the most artistically interesting and maybe just the best in general thanks to the work of director Panos Cosmatos.
Here’s why you need to watch “The Viewing” now on Netflix, and what to know before you do.
The biggest selling point is probably the cast. “The Viewing” stars Peter Weller (of Robocop fame) as a rich recluse who invites a collection of impressive people to his home. That group includes Eric André as a famous music producer, Steve Agee as a celebrated novelist, Charlyne Yi as a brilliant scientist, and Michael Therriault as a self-proclaimed psychic. Sophie Boutella joins the group as a doctor who provides Weller’s character with both life-saving medicine and mountains of coke.
Most of the episode takes place in a single room of Weller’s fortress-like mansion as he doles out various party favors. The evening starts with a rare bottle of whiskey, followed by a joint, and finally, coke sprinkled with some other mysterious substance. All the while, their host promises a life-changing reveal.
Subscribe for free to Inverse’s award-winning daily newsletter.
But for Panos Cosmatos, these mind-altering substances are a metaphor for another theme that runs through “The Viewing.” Weller’s character is a collector of rare objects but also of talented people who he employs to work for him, and he seems intent on adding some or all of his guests to that collection.
“I think there’s a parallel between extreme collecting and addiction,” the director told Den of Geek. “I grew up around heavy-duty collectors. My dad was a massive collector. I collect a nominal level, but I know people who are like librarians, with knowledge about comic books and movies, who collect obsessively. This is interesting mindset to me. It’s close, in a way, to chemical addiction.”
“The Viewing” is also beautifully shot. When the group first enters the mansion, they walk down a long hallway, illuminated only by a bright light emanating from a doorway behind them. Most of the episode takes place in a single room lit in reds and oranges. The lens refracts any direct light, be it the smoking end of a lit joint or the reflection of a metal square piled high with white powder.
When the host finally reveals his final surprise, the episode escalates rapidly to its brutal finale. I won’t spoil the big twist, though it’s worth noting that the decision to rely on CGI over practical effects undercuts what could be a perfect episode.
But “The Viewing” is still a standout entry not only in Cabinet of Curiosities but in the sci-fi horror genre in general. Unlike other similar films released this year (like Jordan Peele’s Nope), Cosmatos has constructed a piece of pure terror. There’s no redemption here. Just collection, addiction, and despair.
“The Viewing” is streaming now on Netflix.