‘Pickman’s Model’ Star Crispin Glover Is a Model of Madness

The new Netflix series, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, features eight different tales of horror curated by del Toro himself. The anthology series debuts two new episodes every day this week, beginning on Oct. 25. With four under our belt, let’s get to the recap of Cabinet of Curiosities Episode 5, titled “Pickman’s Model.”

[WARNING: This article contains detailed spoilers regarding Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities Episode 5, “Pickman’s Model.”]

Ben Barnes as Thurber in ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ episode ‘Pickman’s Model’ | Cr. Ken Woroner/Netflix © 2022

‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ episode ‘Pickman’s Model’ is based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will certainly enjoy Thursday’s double feature as both Cabinet of Curiosities episodes, “Pickman’s Model” and “Dreams in the Witch House,” are inspired by two of Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraftian horror centers around the scariness of the unknown, and it often drives people mad in his tales. “Pickman’s Model” has a similar theme.

William Thurber (Ben Barnes) is a young and talented painter. When a new but older student named Richard Pickman (Crispin Glover) shows up in class one day, Thurber becomes fascinated with his work. The students sketch a human model on that particular day, and the teacher tells the group to “draw what they see.” All of them do so, but when Thurber sees Pickman’s painting, he’s shocked. Pickman’s sketch is of the male model but with his skin rotting away with grotesque details.

Thurber later learns from friends that Pickman often draws in a local cemetery, and Thurber heads out to find him. There, Pickman sits at a grave sketching a disemboweled dead cat (because that’s not weird). He shows Thurber the rest of his sketchbook, filled with monstrous drawings of beastly creatures and tentacled beings.

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Pickman’s art begins to drive Thurber mad

Later, Pickman’s entry into a contest featured a work so macabre and disturbing that the administration at the art school kicked him out. He tells Thurber they’re the “wrong audience” for his work. Pickman then invites Thurber over to see some of his other pieces. Thurber’s horrified at what he sees. Pickman explains that his relatives were involved in a coven, and the head witch killed her husband and fed him to the coven “while he was still warm.” The paintings swarm in front of Thurber’s eyes, and the audience hears unearthly monsters’ disembodied cackling and growls. He rushes out, having seen enough.

Pickman disappeared for several years after Thurber visited his apartment. However, a painting from him shows up at Thurber’s door one day. Thurber, now married and with a young son, wants nothing to do with Pickman or his work anymore. He’s still haunted by the images he saw and doesn’t want his son or wife to look at the artwork left by Pickman.

A house of horrors

In the Cabinet of Curiosities episode “Pickman’s Model,” Pickman begs Thurber to come to his house to see his latest work. Thurber finally gives in. He follows Pickman to the recesses of an enormous house with sketches of monsters and horrific scenes littering the walls. Thurber hears snarling and moans as Pickman yells out, “Get back! He’s my friend!”

Pickman returns from a tunnel and tries to explain why he draws what he does. However, Thurber, on edge from everything, thinks Pickman is reaching for a weapon. Pickman wheels around with a sketchbook and a photograph in hand, and Thurber shoots him. With his dying words, he tells Thurber the paintings don’t come from his head. They come from his life. Thurber looks at the photograph, a picture of a group of ghastly creatures hovered around a table.

Thurber’s ending ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ episode ‘Pickman’s Model’ is as horrifying as the pictures he tries to escape

Sometime later, Thurber, who seemingly moved on from the night at Pickman’s, gets ready for the opening of his art gallery. He brings his wife and son to view the paintings, but an employee alerts him to another problem. Thurber finds another of his workers staring at one of Pickman’s paintings on the wall. He turns around, and Thurber sees his face mutilated and an eye dangling on his cheek.

Horrified, Thurber realizes Pickman’s paintings somehow replaced his original choices. He tells his wife and son to go home and not look at any pictures. They agree, and Thurber begins covering the art and removing it from the walls.

When Thurber arrives home, he finds his wife chopping vegetables for dinner with her back to him. He gets closer, and she turns around to reveal she gouged her eyes out too. Thurber then turns to see the oven on and smoke filters through the door. He begs his wife to find their son. Thurber opens the oven door to find his son’s head cooking on a platter of vegetables.

“Pickman’s Model” gives fans maybe the most disturbing ending out of all eight episodes of Cabinet of Curiosities. Hopefully, fans were prepared. It’s not like we showed up to watch eight hours of happy endings.

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Source: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/guillermo-del-toros-cabinet-of-curiosities-pickmans-model-madness.html/