A Glimpse Inside Bleak House

January 1, 2018 - Joel's Journal - Volume 3 - Entry 1

A Glimpse Inside Bleak House

A visit to the AGO's Guillermo del Toro At Home With Monster's exhibit


The face looms over us like a full moon fallen from the sky. 

The giant, pale head of Frankenstein hangs off the wall at the AGO inside their latest exhibition, Guillermo del Toro’s At Home with Monsters. 

Del Toro is the mastermind behind such things as Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak and more recently, The Strain novels and TV series alongside Chuck Hogan. 

The exhibit is a walk through nearly 400 items that were taken from del Toro’s home in LA. He’s named the place Bleak House, and it is filled to the rim with all sorts of movie props, books, and other horror, fantasy and sci-fi oddities that del Toro has either created himself or been inspired by. 

The exhibition at the AGO is only a small sample of those things, but the second I heard about the exhibit (months ago) I’ve been talking about going. I guess M listened. 

For Christmas she got us tickets for the exhibit today (Jan. 1), talk about starting 2018 the right way. 

I walked through the place like a kid in a candy store, adoring the life-sized models of the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth, and the Angel of Death from Hellboy, while also flicking through the digitized pages of del Toro’s own notebooks (personally my favourite part of the exhibit). 

Now, admittedly, I’m no del Toro expert. I’ve seen a few of his films (Hellboy, Blade II), and I’ve loved The Strain novels. With that said, I don’t think one needs to necessarily know all of his work to enjoy the exhibit. Each room is designed around different aspects of del Toro’s inspirations or themes that tend to show up in his work, from childhood innocence, to death and the afterlife, along with his horror and pop culture inspirations. 

Essentially, I left the place feeling like I’d taken a jaunt through del Toro’s imagination, but more than that, it made me want to write and create horror! 

Seeing the creatures, the worlds, the stories and everything that del Toro has created throughout his career just makes me smile and think, fuck, I want to do that


The other big part of it for me was the clear moulding of all of del Toro’s passions into his stories. 

For me, I’ve always been passionate about horror, I’ve always loved the movies, the books and grew up reading Stephen King before I could even really understand the massive books. 

With that said, my desire to create these sort of stories has always clashed with my love for telling REAL stories. As a journalist, my stories are based on truth and fact, and as my career has progressed, that has crept over into my fiction as well, pushing the horror stuff to the background.

Del Toro’s exhibit clearly showed me that it was okay to allow those two things to clash together, and to let all of the things that inspire you as a creator, to become part of what you’re making. 

Honestly, it was an amazing experience, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re ever downtown. (With that said, you should probably hurry because this is it’s last week.)


After the AGO visit, M and I pushed back through the chilly streets to the subway, fleeing underground from the biting wind on our way back to the apartment and the warmth of our couch and a pile of blankets. 

It’s from there that I’m writing this now. I haven’t really left, only to cook M and I a pasta dinner, which we also ate on the couch under thick blankets. 

I hope you all had a fantastic New Years Eve and enjoyed the first day of 2018. If the remaining 364 days are just like this one, I’ll be one grateful dude. 

However, tomorrow, it’s back to reality. 

My first day back at the office since Dec. 20, and it just so happens to fall on a Tuesday, which means production day. So, a busy day of putting together a newspaper is upon us. 

Time to get some rest. 


Thanks for reading everyone!



Joel Wittnebel