I just got back from watching Guillermo Del Toro’s newest film, Crimson Peak, and holy balls was it a doozy. Doozy in a good way? Was it doozy like, “Oh Jesus that was a doozy!” (followed by a derisive eye roll). Well, read on MacDuff, read on.
Just the Facts Ma’am:
Crimson Peak is basically, When Edith Met Thomas. It starts off in turn-of-the-century Buffalo, NY. Edith (played by the radiant Mia Wasikowska) is a headstrong young woman; an aspiring writer who models herself after Mary Shelley, and prefers to write ghost stories over love stories. Her father is a wealthy, self-made man whose business involves the design and construction of buildings. Thusly, we meet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, smoldering as ever). He’s a baronet with a small landholding in England who has invented a machine that will mine clay for bricks more efficiently. He only has a model version and has come to ask Edith’s father and his associates to invest in his idea. Edith’s dad doesn’t like the looks of this kid one bit and is really not loving how much attention Sharpe is paying his daughter. He’d like to see her get cozy with the nice young Opthamologist, Dr. McMichaels (Charlie Hunnam, less hammy than in Pacific Rim) but Edith has got the puppy-dog eyes for Thomas. The young baronet and his sister are being hosted by a number of families who are impressed with the idea of actual European aristocracy but Edith’s dad just isn’t having it. Plots unfold, this and that happens and eventually Thomas and Edith wind up married and heading across the sea to England to live in the crumbling family Manor, Allerdale Hall, also known as Crimson Peak because of the way the red clay stains the snow. Did I mention there are ghosts popping up here and there to bedevil Edith’s sleep? There are. To reveal any more would be spoiling which I will not do, but suffice it to say, shit gets spooky.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
This movie was beautiful. Rich, vibrant colors, detailed period costuming, epic set design, this movie had all of that. The atmosphere in the disintegrating Allerdale Hall was so Castle Dracula, oppressive and full of shadowy corners, nooks and crannies. You could spend days exploring that house. A lot of the Del Toro stylistic staples are here; stuff falling through the air, hanging in it (snow, dust, moths etc), red on white, ooey-gooey scare effects, scenes expanding and contracting from or into shadows. These are all on display and, as always, add to the grandiosity and fantasy/fable flavor of the proceedings.
That’s just the surface stuff though. This is a gothic mystery/ghost/romance and so the story isn’t so twisty or mind blowing that you’ll slap your hand to your forehead but it does keep you guessing till it decides to give you the whole picture. Nonetheless it is a gripping story that takes its time in the telling but is never boring. This was a really gripping, emotional movie and when it was over I felt like I’d been holding my breath for the last twenty minutes or so. The performances were all high caliber, everyone was all in for the old style speech-patterns and the chemistry was great. Massive credit to Jessica Chastain who plays Thomas’s sister Lucille. She stole the show for me in a few places and had me captivated anytime she was on screen.
I can’t think of anything negative to say about Crimson Peak. I’m not a critic who watches a movie looking for flaws. If they are egregious enough for me to notice then they jump out. If nothing jumps out or I don’t just think, “huh, that could’ve been a little better,” then I don’t go poking around for something to bitch about.
Recommend or Rectify:
Obviously my last statement probably clued you in that this would be a recommend for me. HUGE recommend. See it in the theater so you can really get the lush feel of the whole thing. You want to be surrounded by this movie, immersed, almost drowned in it. I can’t say enough good things about this movie. After having seen this, I now want Guillermo Del Toro to remake all the Universal Monster movies (with Tom Hiddleston as Dracula for sure—he’d make a great Dracula) and I’m sure he wants to do that too and will attach himself to each one only to end up having to drop out. Ah well, like the Stones say, you can’t always get what you want. Five stars to this film says I.
Night of the Living Podcast
—–In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Release Date: 16 October 2015 (USA)
Production Co: Legendary Pictures