01x08 - The Murmuring

Episode transcripts for the TV show, "Guillermon del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities". Aired: October 25, 2022.*
Watch/Buy Amazon

Bizarre nightmares unfold in eight tales of terror in a visually stunning, spine-tingling horror collection curated by Guillermo del Toro.
Post Reply

01x08 - The Murmuring

Post by bunniefuu »

[eerie music playing]

Ancient belief tells us

that birds carry our souls,
our beliefs, our hopes up to the gods.

They are the dark messengers,
crisscrossing the twilight sky,

forming ever-changing patterns
called "murmurations."

But that word...

that word also suggests a voice,

a whisper,

a prayer uttered in the dark
when we think we have lost it all.

Our story today is "The Murmuring,"

and our director is Jennifer Kent.

[eerie music ends]

[unsettling orchestral music]

[unsettling music ends]

[woman] To those
unfamiliar with the dunlin,

it would appear to be
an unremarkable bird.

[projector clicks]

But to those familiar
with its breathtaking flight patterns,

known as murmurations,

this species is a miracle of nature.

[projector clicks]

And a never-ending source of mystery.

In this case, a peregrine falcon
appears hoping for a meal.

You can see it on the edge of frame.

And in an instant,

the dunlins veer away from it
in perfect unison,

forming at first an hourglass shape.

And then a sphere.

And then something akin to a cloud.

And finally,

most incredibly,

a bird in flight.

[audience murmurs]

Not one dunlin is caught,

and the poor falcon goes home hungry.

[audience chuckles]

But the dunlins don't need a predator
to prompt this phenomenon.

They do it with
or without a falcon looming.

So, how and why do very few species
partake in this exceptional display,

forming perfect patterns
of movement in the hundreds,


sometimes even millions
without any collision or confusion?

Scientists and ornithologists have been
trying to find out why for decades.

Even lately grasping at such mysterious
concepts as natural telepathy.

[audience murmurs, chuckles]

We are not entirely convinced

there's anything as mystical
as bird mind-reading going on.

[audience laughs]

But we are entirely devoted
to finding out answers.

We would like to acknowledge
Mr. and Mrs. Montague,

our benefactors, who are here tonight.

[man] Hear, hear.

Thank you so much for your generosity.

And in particular,
for our new movie camera.

It's a luxury
we've never been able to afford,

and it'll make such a difference
to our research.

And as a thank-you,

we have a snippet of footage
Edgar sh*t recently of starlings,

a practice run.

[audience whispers]

[projector whirs]

[audience murmurs]

[audience gasps]

[gasping, murmuring continues]

[audience laugh, chatter indistinctly]

Thank you.

It's Nancy you should be congratulating.
She's the mastermind.

- Where did you film something like that?
- [Edgar] Upstate New York.

- [man] Have you used a camera before?
- [Edgar] No, not that one.

They're one of the few survivors
of the Prehistoric era.

- Much smaller, of course. [chuckles]
- [woman laughs]

But mostly unchanged,
which I find fascinating.

I'm also a terrific lover of research.

Pop me in a room
with a stack of books, and I'm happy.

What about you, Mrs. Bradley?

What do you love most about birds?


Their freedom.

Who wouldn't want to lift off and fly away
from the world like that sometimes?


I was very happy
to hear about your field trip.

I'm thrilled it's finally here.
We've been planning it for months.

Very good news for both of you.

After all you've been through.

[jazzy classical music plays
in background]

[indistinct chattering]

I'm so sorry, Edgar.

I meant to call you months ago, but...

If there is a God,
he certainly is a very cruel one.

[airplane engine approaches]

[propeller whirs loudly]

[indistinct chattering]

[man] You've picked a time for it,
cold and blustery.

A perfect time for the dunlins.

[man] They're everywhere
on the island now.

You'll have no shortage.

The house is near the bay,
and they're all around it.

There's a house there?

The missus has prepared
some rooms for your stay.

It's been a while since anyone's used it.

It's not the Ritz, but it's livable.

You didn't have to do that.

We couldn't have you staying in tents
in this weather, for goodness' sakes.

- We're used to it.
- [man] I got the generator up and running.

So you'll have electricity,
running water, a roof over your head.

That's very kind of you.

Tell me, that thing that they do,
all flocking together like that,

why on earth do they do that?

- [boat engine chugging]
- [seagulls calling]

[Edgar] I was expecting a shack.
It's enormous!

Who on earth would've found the need
to build such a large home here?

With nothing around.

Oh, the previous owners gave it
to the State. More money than sense.

Did someone live here permanently?

The owner built it for his daughter,
I believe. Shall I take you in?

Our apologies.

It's such a big house,
couldn't clear it all.

It's a luxury for us. Truly.

[man] Fresh wood in the fireplace
is down here.

Same in the bedrooms upstairs.

And the kitchen stove is a wood burner.

Plenty of wood outside.
I'll show you where.

And I'll show you where
the generator is on the way out.

[footsteps fading]

I'll be back next Sunday
to drop off more supplies.

[Edgar] Thanks again.

Happy birdwatching.

[birds chirping loudly]

[video camera whirs]

[Nancy] Testing. Testing.

October th, ,
first day on Big Harbour Island.

[birds chirping loudly, wings fluttering]

[waves lap shore]

[bird calling]

[whistling through radio]


There's a huge flock
gathering on the sandbar

and I just spotted a peregrine up high.

On my way.

[video camera whirs]

[intensified waves lapping
and birds twittering]

Here they come.

My little beauties.

[waves lapping shore]

[wings fluttering]

[video camera whirring]

[birds cawing]

[howling in distance]

[f*re crackles]

- [Nancy] So thoughtful.
- Hmm?

New towels, new sheets.

They didn't have to do that.

They would've been paid
a pittance by Cornell.

Just very good people.

I'm really glad we're here.

I'm very tired.

It's our first full day tomorrow.

Of course.

I just haven't slept.

It's no problem.

[lamp cord clicks]

[f*re crackles]

[soft instrumental music playing]

[wind howls outside]

[wind howls outside]

[Nancy sighs]

[Nancy sighs heavily]

[Nancy sighs]

[baby crying in distance]

[hurried footsteps in corridor]

[Nancy breathes shakily]

[Nancy sighs]

[piercing shriek of static]

[Nancy's voice] October th, ,
: p.m. Big Harbour Island

A large number of dunlins
are gathering on the bay.

Approximately thousand...

[both breathe shakily]

- What happened?
- I have no idea.

I'll check, you go back to bed.

You go.

[Edgar] I made you sandwiches.

- [Nancy] Thank you.
- [kiss]

- [Edgar] Eat them.
- I will.


[dunlins chirping]

[wings flapping loudly]

[shutter clicks]

[dunlins twittering]

[waves lapping shore]

- [wings flapping loudly]
- [dunlins screech]


[Edgar whistling over radio]

Did you eat my sandwich?

Yes, it was delicious.

See you soon.

Do you mind
if I don't come over this evening?

I need to set up
my cataloging system.

- Oh.
- [Nancy] You can station the mic I left.

- It's got a wide range, I prepped it.
- No problem.

I can get dinner started.

[Edgar whistling over radio]

[dunlins chirping on tape]

[playback stops]

[tape rewinds]

[dunlins chirping on tape]

[footsteps thud in distance]

[playback stops]

[footsteps in distance]


[Edgar] Hello.

[relieved sigh] In here.

What are you doing here in the gloom?

You'll ruin your eyes.

[lamp cord clicks]

They're already ruined.

You missed a stunning one tonight.
Possibly the most beautiful of all.

You always say that when I'm not there.

[Edgar] I do not.

Do I?


- I got good audio, I think.
- [Nancy] Thank you.

- They were very noisy.
- [chuckles] Wonderful.

I made a casserole.

You're a wonder.

I'll get the f*re going.

[wind howls outside]

Brontë sisters, Madame Bovary,

Crime and Punishment.

- Tess of the d'Urbervilles...
- That's a cheery selection.

What are you reading?

The Mating Habits of the Dunlin
in the Canadian Wet Tundra Region.

[chuckling] It sounds provocative.

Oh, it is.

We're not even dealing with them
in the mating season, darling.

Every aspect of their behavior
could be a clue.

How they mate,
how they nest, how they forage.

Why don't they engage in murmurations
during the breeding season, for example?

Too busy making love.

[chuckles softly]

[dance band orchestral music playing]



♪ Do the dunlin ♪

[Nancy laughs]

Come on.

- No.
- Please.

No. I want to read.

[Edgar] Come, come, come.


Edgar, don't.

I'm not in the mood.

[Edgar] You're never in the mood.

[music stops]

[wind howls outside]

[wind howls loudly]

[Edgar snores softly]

[snoring intensifies]

[Nancy sighs]

[footsteps in distance]


[breathes heavily]

[snoring continues]

[Nancy sighs]

- [distant bang]
- [gasps]

[distant thudding]

[distant thud]


[Edgar snores softly]


[Edgar snores]

[distant thud]

[distant bang]


- [distant bang]
- [door creaking]

[wind howls outside]

[door creaking eerily]

[door bangs, thuds]


[door thudding]

[flipping light switch]

[door creaks, bangs]

[door banging]

[door creaks eerily]

[dunlins chirping]

[wings fluttering]

[dunlins singing sweetly]

[Edgar snores]

[footsteps approach]

- [Nancy shouts] Edgar!
- What?

[Edgar groans softly]

What in God's name are they doing?

Are they sick? Sheltering from the cold?

They're built for the cold.

I never heard of a dunlin
roosting above shrub level,

certainly not in an attic.

[shutter clicks]

My dear little dunlins,

what are you doing?

[dunlins twittering]

[video camera whirring]

[wings fluttering]

[whirring stops]

[video camera whirring]

[dunlins singing, wings fluttering]

[whistling in distance]


[whistling in distance]

[whispers] I'm recording.

[whistling in distance]


[dunlins twittering on tape]

[tape player whirs gently]

[burst of static]

[playback stops]

[winding tape back]

[dunlins twittering on tape]

[burst of static]

[high-pitched ringing]

[high-pitched warbling]

[buttons clunking]

[winding tape back]

[tape whirs]

[high-pitched ringing]

[murmuring on tape]

[ghostly child's voice] I'm so cold.

[tape whirs softly]


They sound different, more melancholy.

Did you not hear it?

Hear what?

Give them to me.

[dunlins chirping through headphones]

[buttons clunk]

[buttons clunk]

[dunlins twittering, wings fluttering]

- What did you hear?
- Shh!

[dunlins twittering, wings fluttering]

[button clunks]

You haven't had any sleep.
You're very tired.

I listened to it several times.

- I don't understand what's happened.
- You haven't used an old tape?

Since when have I ever reused tapes?
I'm not a fool.

All right, don't bite my head off.

It might help if you tell me
what I'm meant to be listening for.

[wind bl*ws creepily]

[dunlins screech in attic]

Oh, well...

It was good while it lasted.


[dunlins chirping]

- [wings fluttering]
- [waves lapping shore]

[video camera whirring]

[Edgar] "They roll like
a drunken fingerprint across the sky."

[Nancy] Mm.

Richard Wilbur.

He's talking about murmurations.

Beautiful poem.


"They roll like a drunken fingerprint
across the sky."

What do?



That's good.

I cannot find one instance of dunlins
roosting in a human structure anywhere.

Don't you think that's weird?

It'll most likely give us
years of grief trying to figure it out.

It's like they're drawn to this house.


To this house?

That's a leap.

Well, why are they roosting
in this house and nowhere else on Earth?

That we know of yet.

[Nancy sighs softly]

This house gives me the creeps.

Old houses do that.

They're creepy.

Can I read you some more?

What was this family doing here?

- The one on the walls.
- [Edgar] I don't know, my love.

Why would they leave
all their furniture and possessions,

gathering dust?

For decades?

You get that crease, just there,

when you're trying to solve a mystery.

[sighs wearily, clicks tongue]

- I shouldn't frown.
- [Edgar] No, I like it. It's sexy.

- [Nancy scoffs]
- [Edgar laughs]

You are sexy.

[chuckling] Don't be silly.

I love you, crazy bird lady.

Do you love me?

[Nancy] I have a headache.


Don't touch me.

- Why not?
- What's the point?

The point is I love you.

I'm so sorry.

- I just need...
- More time.

I know.

I didn't mean to upset you.

I'll leave you be.


[wind howls]

[Nancy plumps pillow, sighs]


[sighs wearily]

[soft moaning in distance]

[ghostly voice] I'm so cold.

- [Nancy yells] Who's there?
- What's wrong?

I had a bad dream.

I'm sorry.

It's so stuffy in here with the f*re.

Can I open this, just a cr*ck?

[Edgar] Yes.

Do you mind if I sleep near the window?

That's fine.

[Edgar grunts]

[dunlins twittering]

[wings fluttering]

[dunlins chirping, wings fluttering]

[waves lapping shore]

[footsteps rustle grass]

[wind howls eerily]

[door creaks loudly]

[cupboard doors rattle]

[soft instrumental music]

It's beautiful.

[Nancy] Don't you think
it's strange, though?


What's the one word I always mention

when anyone asks me
why I'm drawn to birds?

You laugh about it.

- You always go on about their freedom.
- Yes, that's right.


It's a feeling a lot of people get
when they look at a murmuration, Nance.

I feel for her.

What do you mean?

I don't know. I... I just do.

Living in this big house all on her own.

She had her husband and son here
by the looks of it. She wasn't alone.

It's an accurate embroidery.
She must have been a keen birdwatcher.

What have I done now?

- I don't understand what you want from me.
- I don't want anything.

[sighs] I don't know.

Forget it.

- Did you get much work done today?
- There is more to life than work.

I know there is, but we're here to work.

I thought you wanted me
to take a break once in a while.

I do.

[Nancy] This is beautiful.

But when I look at it,

all I feel is sad.

Her arm outstretched like that.

She must have felt very trapped here.

[scoffs softly]

I know how she felt.

[baby coos in distance]

[baby babbles]

[baby babbles]

[baby grizzles gently]

[Nancy] Oh.


[Ava babbles]

[Nancy whispers] Hey.

[eerie suspenseful music playing]


[wind howls outside]

[gasps, sighs]

[running footsteps in corridor]

[child crying in distance]

[Nancy gasps]

[breathes shakily]

[clattering in distance]

[stomping footsteps]

[baby crying]

[crying intensifies]

[crying stops]

[Nancy breathes shakily]

[Nancy exhales sharply]


[Nancy] He wrote that he'd leave his wife
once he came back from the w*r,

but then when the w*r was over,
he went straight back to his wife, saying,

"Oh no, I cannot be with you, my love.
I'm heartbroken."

"I have to honor my marriage."
Blah blah blah.

- [Edgar] Mm-hmm.
- She must have told him she was pregnant.

He mentions a child and paying for it.

I could tell
from his first letter he was a cad.

- [camera shutter clicks]
- I suspect she had no idea.

- She was head over heels in love...
- Shh! You're too loud!

[wings flapping]

He never lived here,
he was never part of the family,

though the photos make it look like that.

Why are you so interested in their story?


'Cause I want to know how
they ended up on this island all alone.

It's sad.

We're staying in their house.

[shutter clicks]

You feel that gives you permission
to read all their personal letters?

Is it so wrong
to read a d*ad person's letters?

Yes, it is.

And how do you know they're d*ad?

I have a feeling.

[Edgar] You have a scientist's brain.

Since when have you relied on
"I have a feeling" in place of facts?

Oh, yes, Edgar.
God forbid I should feel something.

The minute some people
step into a falling-down old house,

they start seeing ghosts.

[shutter clicks]

Some people?

I am not "some people."

And I don't believe in ghosts.

You're more interested in people
you've never met than your own work.

- I have devoted my life to this work.
- I know.

[Nancy] I have worked harder
than any of those men

who sail through the halls of Cornell
thinking they're God's gift.

I know. I'm sorry.

[wings flapping]

Forgive me for being interested

in something other than birds
for five minutes!

[dunlins twittering]


[Nancy over radio] Edgar.

[video camera whirs, stops]


The dunlins are back.

[Edgar] Oh.

I'll be over in a while.

[wings fluttering]

Things just got interesting.

I'll be there as soon as I can.

[dunlins twittering, wings fluttering]

[static crackles]


[ghostly child's voice] Mommy's mad at me.

- [woman shouts] What did you do?
- [Nancy gasps]

[breathes shakily]

[child whimpers, sobs]

[child cries]

[Nancy breathes shakily]

- [child sobs]
- [liquid dripping]

[sobbing continues]

[wind howls outside]

[unsettling music playing]

[sobbing continues]

[boy sobs]

[throaty gasping]

- [Nancy gasps]
- [ominous orchestration]

[music stops]

[Nancy breathes shakily]

[Nancy exhales sharply]

[door opens]

- Where have you been?
- Working.

- You said you'd come as soon as you could.
- I was doing my job.

[wings fluttering, chirping]

Open the door.

[dunlin chirping loudly]

[Nancy gasps]


Don't grip it so tight.
It's stunned, you'll k*ll it.

- Nancy.
- Please, Edgar, put it down.

Sweetheart, its neck is broken.

- Oh.
- [Edgar] Poor little thing.

Oh well, not all is lost.
The museum always needs more skins.

Are you all right?


Yes, of course.

[insects chirping]

[water stirs gently]

[distant wailing]

[distant sobbing]

- [emotional breathing]
- [bang on door]

- [distant sobbing]
- [banging on door]

[loud emotional wailing]

[banging on door]

[boy's voice whispers] I'm so cold.

[Nancy exhales]

[ominous b*at]

[panicked breathing]

[door creaks open ominously]

[ghostly yelling] What did you do?

[screaming loudly]

[Nancy screams]

- [Nancy gasps]
- [footsteps approaching]

- [Edgar] Nancy.
- [breathes shakily]

[Edgar] Nance!

It's all right.

It's all right, sweetheart. Shh.

[Nancy] The door opened on its own.

And then something...

[whispers] ...something...

It's an old house.
Everything moves and creaks.

Let it out, Nance.

You haven't cried at all. Not since...

everything happened.

It would do you good to let it out.

Just yesterday, you told me
you didn't want me to feel.

- That's not what I said.
- You said I was being unscientific.

Relying on my feelings.

No, I said I was surprised
you were relying on your feelings.

Because that would be so terrible,
wouldn't it?

No, Nance. I don't know what I...

So, which wife
do you want me to be, Edgar?

The one who feels or the one who doesn't?

I'm sorry, Nance. I'm not perfect.

I'm trying.

Oh yes, you're trying.

I don't wanna talk anymore.

I just wanna sleep.

[dunlins twittering]

- [video camera whirring]
- [soft eerie music]

[video camera whirring]

[whirring stops]

[man] Hello.


- Got everything you asked for.
- Wonderful.

[boat engine stops]

Mr. Grieves?

Can you tell me who lived in this house?

Uh, nobody's lived here for decades.

Yes, I know that.
But... who are the people on the walls?

I know this might sound silly,
but I have seen some things...


That's all. Some...

very odd things.

What do you mean?

[inaudible chatter]

[Nancy] Why did she live
all the way out here

alone with her son?

Her family put her here.

It was too isolated.

And it didn't work out.

How did it not work out?

The boy d*ed.


Please, Mr. Grieves, how did he die?

He drowned.

She drowned him, didn't she?

And where is the mother now?

Please, Mr. Grieves.

She did away with herself.

[inaudible chatter]

This happened years ago, Mrs. Bradley.
What is there to tell?

I would've liked to have known.

My wife and I went out of our way
to give you a place to stay,

out of this dreadful cold.

We really made an effort.

Of course, and we're enormously grateful.

People say they see things here,

but it's just a morbid fascination
with other people's misery.

- People see what they wanna see.
- Of course.

It's all a load of rubbish.

I don't believe in ghosts.

[door closes]

- What was that about?
- What was what about?

Your long, heated conversation
with the caretaker?


It wasn't nothing.

How am I ever supposed to help you
if you never tell me anything?

Whenever I tell you anything,
it's never what you wanna hear.

I want to know.

I do.

I asked him
about the people who lived here.

The mother and child.

All right.

Because I have been seeing
and hearing them ever since we got here.

What do you mean?

I have seen and heard them.

In this house.

Their voices,

their... forms.

And I would love it,
I would dearly love it, Edgar,

if I could just tell you this
and you would believe me.

I know you've had
no proper sleep for a whole year.

Even sane, rational people like you

will see and hear things
when they've had no sleep.

- Please, Edgar, don't...
- I haven't seen anything, Nance.

No ghosts or goblins.
Nothing but a big, sad old house.

So forgive me. I am trying to understand.

Don't tell me you're trying to understand
like I'm some crazy person.

I never said you were crazy!

All I know is you've been dealt
the worst blow any mother,

any human being could've been dealt,
and I'm very worried about you.

Why is it always about me?

You went through this too, Edgar.

Why don't you tell me
how you feel for once?

[shouts] All right! I feel lost.

I feel... angry.

I feel completely heartbroken.

And I... I don't understand you.

I... I don't understand
how our darling Ava can die,

and you haven't shed a tear,

not one single tear
in the whole year since.

You want me to cry for you?

- Would that make it better?
- [Edgar] No, of course not.

I just thought
a mother would cry for her child.

We took this trip to make things better,
and now we're here and you...

you seem to care more about these people,
these d*ad people,

than you do about your own daughter.

You asked me how I feel.

Well, that's how I feel.

You've never let me in, Nance.

Not once
through this horrible mess of a year.

I try... [breathes emotionally]

...and I try,
and I just feel you slipping away.

I want more than anything in the world
for us to stay together, but I don't...


I'll sleep down here tonight.

Head off to my station
early in the morning before dawn.

Unless you want me to stay.


tell me, Nance,

and I will.

[Edgar sighs]

I'll be on the radio.

[Edgar goes upstairs]

[insects chittering]

[bird hooting]

[alarm clock ringing]

[alarm clock ringing in distance]

[alarm clock continues ringing]

[ringing stops]

[door creaks, closes]



[dunlins singing]

[singing] ♪ Sleep now ♪

♪ Sleep now ♪

♪ Sleep now, Mama's little baby ♪

♪ Sleep now ♪

- [window thuds, creaks eerily]
- [strong wind bl*ws]

[distant wailing]

[swampy footsteps]

[boy sobs in distance]

Mommy's mad at me.

- [boy sobs]
- [footsteps running]

[Nancy gasps]

[eerie woman's voice] What have you done?
What have you done? What have you done?

[yelling demonically] What have you done?

- [banging on door]
- [woman yells]

- [door rattling]
- [woman yells]

- [banging on door]
- [woman yells]

Stop it!

[banging on door]

[woman screams]

- [banging on door]
- [door rattling]

Leave him alone!

[woman screams]

Leave him alone!

- [banging stops]
- [woman falls silent]

[boy sobbing]

[boy] Mommy is mad at me.

And I don't know why.


[boy sobbing]

Your mommy did a bad thing to you.

You were hurt.

And you're not alive anymore.

[boy breathes shakily]

[wailing sobs]

You did... nothing wrong.

You were the perfect child.

[boy] I'm so cold.

It's so dark.

[emotional instrumental music]

Come into the light, sweetheart,

where it's warm. Can you do that?

Take my hand.

You won't be alone or cold anymore.

[boy sobs softly]

Run into the light, sweetheart.

[emotional music swells]

You're safe.

Run into the light.

Run into the light!

[music fades]


[ghostly woman wails]

[dunlins chirping, wings fluttering]

[footsteps approaching]

[woman sobs]

What have you done?

What have you done?

What have you done?

[haunting instrumental music]



[wind whistling]

[breathing shakily]


[awe-inspiring music playing]

[wings fluttering]

[wings fluttering loudly]



[breathes emotionally]

- [radio clicks]
- [whistling on radio]


[Edgar] Nance?


[radio static crackles]

[Edgar] Yes.

Are you all right?

[emotionally] I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry.


I've been so lost.

Of course, my darling, I understand.

I love you.

[Edgar] I love you too, my darling.

So much.

I wanna talk about Ava.

[sobs softly]

[dunlins twittering]

[Nancy sighs]

- [dunlins twittering]
- [waves lapping shore]

[wings fluttering loudly]

[birds calling]

[thunderclaps cracking]
Post Reply