What is the scariest episode of Cabinet of Curiosities? All the episodes ranked

What is the scariest episode of Cabinet of Curiosities? Keziah Mason in the anthology series
Keziah Mason in the anthology series. (Image credit: Netflix)

** Contains spoilers for Cabinet of Curiosities **

What is the scariest episode of Cabinet of Curiosities? With so many stories packed into this anthology, fans are curious to know which one delivers the most scares, but it's a pretty subjective question.

Everyone's scared of different things, and Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities explores a variety of topics across its eight episodes from ghosts to demons to a strange bottle of skincare cream. But which of these spooky tales comes out on top?

To bring all these stories to life, Del Toro picked some of his favourite horror filmmakers who he personally introduced at the beginning of each episode, and they've each got their own unique style so not one episode feels the same.

Read our countdown to find out which episodes we thought were the scariest, but do you agree? Let us know using the poll below!

8. Lot 36

Sebastian Roche

(Image credit: Netflix)

Lot 36 is a strong opener for Cabinet of Curiosities but it lacks scares in the traditional sense, as most of the episode is building to one key event. Veteran Nick (Tim Blake Nelson) purchases the rights to abandoned storage room lots and has little regard for anyone around him, as all he wants to do is sell the objects for profit. But his selfishness ultimately leads to his downfall.

After finding a bunch of old texts in one of his lots, an antique buyer named Roland (Sebastian Roche) tells him they'd be worth $300,000 provided they locate the missing book. They track it down but with dire consequences, and Nick gets his comeuppance in a pretty satisfying ending.

7. Dreams in the Witch House

Rupert Grint as Walter

(Image credit: Netflix)

Despite the fact it focuses on a spirit, Dreams in the Witch House doesn't deliver quite as many spooks as some in the anthology series and does feel a little predictable in places. Still, it's an effective cautionary tale about what can happen if you refuse to move on, with protagonist Walter (Rupert Grint) unable to let go of the fact his twin sibling tragically died when they were both young.

The episode is gothic in nature with some chills, and those scared by the afterlife and the idea of ghosts may not like it, but it feels more subdued than some of the other episodes which are ranked higher.

6. Pickman's Model

A man burning some paintings

(Image credit: Netflix)

Based on the story by H. P. Lovecraft, Pickman's Model focuses on themes of madness, horrific dreams, disturbing artwork and demonic entities. Art student Will Thurber (Ben Barnes) finds himself captivated yet frightened by the work of Mr. Pickman (Crispin Glover), but things take a much darker turn.

Pickman's art is based on reality and, unfortunately, can predict the future so now that people have observed them awful things start happening. Even when Thurber tries to burn them, the prophetic works of art come true, which is an utterly terrifying concept and something he's unable to escape.

5. The Outside

A woman with a rash all over her skin

(Image credit: Netflix)

There's no real villain in The Outside, but the scary thing about it is its critique of the beauty industry and how sometimes we can be our own harshest critic, and even our own adversary. When awkward outcast Stacy Chapman (Kate Micucci) is gifted a new body lotion, she becomes obsessed with it, even when it gives her a hideous rash all over her skin. 

Watching just how unhinged Stacy becomes is definitely scary, as she goes from being a loving wife and her own person, to someone who simply wants to emulate her conceited colleagues — but at what cost? This body horror is simple yet effective, and Stacy's breakdown hits terrifyingly close to home for some viewers.

4. The Viewing

Lionel Lassiter

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Viewing might be the most unique of all the Cabinet episodes and takes a while to get going as most of the episode introduces us to guests at billionaire Lionel Lassiter's (Peter Weller) house. Even from the get-go things feel a bit weird, and they certainly build to a very unexpected climax.

Lassiter shows his guests, comprised of some of some people he regards as intelligent, a secret room containing an otherworldly meteor. But soon after they observe it, they fall into a trance and then it descends into gory, terrifying chaos as an entity emerges from it. It's not your typical house party and there's some tense chase scenes and disturbing special effects throughout.

3. The Autopsy

A coroner examines a dead body

(Image credit: Netflix)

When a coroner (F. Murray Abraham) shows up for a job, the last thing he expected was for the corpse to come alive again. Unfortunately that's exactly what happens in The Autopsy, so it's far from another day at the office.

This episode is a slow burn but really pays off, as we find out the corpse is inhabited by an alien parasite who is looking for a new vessel in the coroner himself. Cue some grim special effects and a devastating ending and you've got yourself a very effective scary horror short.

2. The Murmuring 

A woman screaming

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Babadook director Jennifer Kent is at the helm of this creepy slow burn, which focuses deeply on grief and loss. Ornithologists Nancy (Essie Davis) and Edgar (Andrew Lincoln) stay at a remote country home to continue their studies and get away from their grief, but it ends up consuming Nancy as she begins to see ghostly apparitions of a young boy and his mother.

There's plenty of suspense in this episode and a couple of scares, making it a very effective ghost story with grief at the centre of the narrative, which is set to both scare you and tug at your heartstrings.  

1. Graveyard Rats

A giant rat terrorises a grave robber

(Image credit: Netflix)

Let's face it, Graveyard Rats is a very uncomfortable viewing experience mostly because it focuses on multiple fears at once. We follow a grave robber named Masson (David Hewlett) who is desperately trying to clear his debts but ends up in a perilous situation while he's trying to make things right.

This episode, directed by Cube's Vincenzo Natali, has it all. It's got closed spaces, fear of the dark, an intense chase scene and of course, rats of all shapes and sizes, including the monstrous mother rat. If that wasn't bad enough Masson also finds himself chased by a reanimated corpse after he steals a piece of jewelry from it, so if this deadly combo isn't enough to keep you up at night we're not sure what is!

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress