Clancy Brown hosts a series of terrifying tales.
Welcome to the town of Raven’s End. It’s the 1980s and Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown) is the manager of the local mortuary and has been for decades. A woman named Sam (Caitlin Custer) comes to apply for a position at the mortuary and Mr. Dark agrees to give her a tour. When Sam shows some curiosity about a newly deceased child, the mortician decides to tell her stories about some of the more interesting deaths in Raven’s End, starting from the 1950s to the 1970s. The tales range from encounters with eldritch abominations to a husband whose devotion has run out to a rapist getting his comeuppance. Then Sam tells him her own story, one which might be darker than Montgomery was expecting.
I am a big fan of horror anthologies, particularly ones like Tales from the Hood where there is a solid framing device and thematically tied-in stories. This movie does that masterfully. All of the stories not only contain thematic elements, but the framing device actually features some level of commentary on them which is worked in mostly organically. Montgomery Dark is someone who is aching to tell these stories, but Sam is largely just there to mock them as boring and overly formulaic (even though they definitely aren’t).
The stories are all different in subject matter and, mostly, in tone, ranging from slightly comic to deeply tragic. Despite that, or maybe because of it, there is no real drop in quality between any of them. They are all great segments, a rarity for even the best anthology films. I do have ones that I favor more, but the fact that I kept thinking “this is the best segment” on both of my viewings speaks to the idea that they really are about equal. As all of the segments take place in Raven’s End, there are even a few recurring characters, mostly a Dr. Harold Kubler (Mike C. Nelson), which makes the stories feel more genuine.
Clancy Brown is basically the perfect casting for the role of the creepy mortician. While he does, in real life, seem to have a very nice personality, his voice and fierce features have usually made him a great villain. In this, he plays that up to the fullest, making himself seem more cartoonish than when he voiced Lex Luthor… but less than when he voiced Mr. Krabs. I honestly hope they make more of these just to give him another chance to play the character.
Overall, this is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in forever. When it was recommended to me, it was the reason I got a Shudder subscription.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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