Guillermo Del Toro, in an Alfred Hitchcock-esque fashion, has brought to us a unique set of eight horror stories in the series Cabinet of Curiosities. Most of these stories go beyond the scope of horror and bring out more profound truths about the human condition.

One such story is The Outside, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. The director of the new-age vampire movie A Girl Walks Home, Amirpour does not fail to impress again in this one-hour-long psychological drama-thriller.

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The story centers around a woman called Stacey, who is very image conscious and considers herself unattractive, especially compared to her colleagues who dress in chic fashion, used the best hair and makeup products, and constantly gossip about their other colleagues. Her husband is supportive and implores Stacey to stop feeling bad about herself.

Stacey is invited to the Secret Santa party of one of her colleagues, Gina, and receives a set of beauty products called Alo-Glo. Her taxidermy gift of a stuffed duck is met with lukewarm response.

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Despite being promoted as one of the best creams in the world, Alo-Glo does not suit Stacey as she finds herself allergic to it. Desperately in need to change herself, Stacey starts hallucinating that a person from within the television is constantly imploring her to use Alo-Glo and come out as a better version of herself.

Influenced by this, Stacey continues using the product despite rashes spreading all over her skin. She even receives a huge box filled with the product, which she hides in the basement.

When her husband chastises her for doing this to herself, Stacey ends up killing him with an axe. 

One day, to Stacey’s surprise, the tubes of Alo-Glo in the box open up by themselves and squeeze out the cream, which then coagulates and turns into a monster. This creature then creates a pool of cream in Stacey’s bathtub, which the latter jumps into.

When she comes out, Stacey is finally the version of herself she had always wanted. She uses her taxidermy skills to create a doll out of her husband, dresses in her best clothes, and stuns her colleagues.

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In an interview with Den of Geek, Amirpour said about the episode, “the whole thing is about [how] the outside is what we judge everything by, and how much importance we give to the outside, the surface. You know, what’s inside is so different, no matter who you are, it’s so different from the outside. And that’s true for everybody. And I think that a madness can happen in being too obsessed with just the outside.”

Stacey is exactly this. She is obsessed with how she looks and wants to preserve the outside as something that never ages and is the best version of itself. Whether what happened was her delusion or the reality, is upto the viewer to decide. However, what she stands for is one’s constant attempts to focus on external things more than what is inside.