“Dreams in the Witch House” is the sixth installment of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities and the second adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story in the anthology’s debut season. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this episode and “Pickman’s Model” have proven to be some of the weakest in the batch. It proves that Lovecraft’s work is challenging to adapt, although I liked this episode better than “Pickman’s Model.”
We can always count on the fact that del Toro and his team will deliver exceptional creature work, and “Dreams in the Witch House” stands out amongst the bunch. I loved the design of Keziah Mason (Lize Johnston), a witch living in the Forest of Lost Souls waiting for the Gilman twins to fulfill a prophecy that will allow her to return to the land of the living.
Rupert Grint stars as Walter Gilman, a member of a local paranormal group called the Spiritualist Society. When Walter was a kid, he witnessed his sister Epperley (Daphne Hoskins) die and then watched as her spirit was dragged into the Forest of Lost Souls. Since then, Walter has been obsessed with trying to breach the veil between the living and the dead to find his sister.
One night, Walter overhears two men discussing another dimension and interrupts their conversation to learn more. To cross over, he’ll need to use a special drug they call “liquid gold” to reach the purgatorial state.
Once there, Walter finds Epperley and manages to bring a scrap of her nightgown back to the real world, proving that matter can transfer between the realms. We later learn that Walter is a special case because he and Epperley are part of a prophecy foretold by a painter named Mariana (Tenika Davis). Walter and Epperley together create a “key” that allows people to crossover from the Lost Realm to the land of the living. Keziah Mason intends to use the twins to return to the real world and take possession of Epperley’s body.
Cabinet of Curiosities episode 6 ending: What happens to Walter and Epperly at the end?
So when Walter returns to the realm and brings Epperley’s spirit back with him, he’s basically doing exactly what Keziah wanted. Mariana explains that Walter will have to die by sunrise for the dead to return to the living (for Keziah to take possession of Everly).
Walter pleads with Mariana for help, so she takes him to a local church, where they ask a nun for assistance. The nun does her best to protect them, but Keziah manages to overpower them all and take Walter. Before she can kill him, Epperley intervenes and kills Keziah once and for all.
Since Epperley obviously doesn’t want to kill her brother, she cannot stay, and her spirit is finally allowed to move on. Walter has set her free.
It looks like this story might get a happy ending, or at least a bittersweet ending when Walter appears to survive the night. But there’s a twist as Keziah’s rat familiar Jenkins Brown (DJ Qualls) remains in the mortal world and burrows into Walter’s body, killing him and taking possession of his body as the sun rises. Mariana’s paintings never lie.
So in a way, it is a happy ending…for Jenkins Brown, who gets another chance at life using Walter’s body.