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Crimson Peak Thoughts

Crimson Peak Thoughts

Artwork by Guy Davis "When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay, a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever."

Artwork by Guy Davis

"When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay, a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever."

Crimson Peak was being advertised as the horror movie of the year and as a fan of some of Guillermo Del Toro’s work I was interested. He had been hyping this movie for a couple of years as his haunted house flick and Del Toro understands horror. To be truthful I was a little underwhelmed but the movie is growing on me slowly. It’s a good film that could have been better but thankfully wasn’t awful. Let me get a few things out of the way. Crimson Peak is not really a horror movie. There’s a few scares and the ghosts are hardly utilized. They’re actually kind of unnecessary. Crimson Peak is a romantic gothic drama that’s a twist on the storytelling of the Bronte sisters and other writers from that age. The CGI is actually not too bad, it worked in the context of the movie. Crimson Peak’s marketing team should either be fired or commended for their job. In a way they misled people into thinking this is another run of the mill horror that’ll get seats especially teenagers. The problem with that is, those people with those expectations will get frustrated and spread negative reviews about the movie which will hurt it in the long run. If they advertised it properly, they could have released it in February, where ideally it has a chance of making good money. I find it infuriating that the trailer spoils huge parts of the plot and every scare in the movie. So I warn you before you see Crimson Peak, DON’T WATCH ANY OF THE TRAILERS! Just read my review instead.

Crimson Peak’s biggest weakness is it’s script. Everything in marketing led this movie to be a huge horror fiasco but it’s very by the numbers. I figured out the entire plot in the first 30 minutes and I was disappointed but alas I wanted to see what they did with the story. Even though Del Toro bombed on the story, his characterizations, his cast and his direction are all superb. They’re the saving grace of the movie. Too many movies these days are suffering from poorly written characters and in the past couple of years, there’s no effort put in villainous characters. In Crimson Peak, the villainous characters are so fleshed out to the point there’s a sense of pity. I’m not going to say who or what are the villains. Let’s talk about the cast. Everyone is good. Mia Wasikowska does the best she can in her role. It’s not best actress worthy but for the movie she’s perfect. Charlie Hunnam felt miscast but he grows on you throughout the movie. They could have gotten someone a bit more charming but oh well. Tom Hiddleston & Jessica Chastain were stupendously amazing. Hiddleston is the right amount of sinister, sadness, and charm.. He’s so perfect in the role. In the scenes where not much happens, Hiddleston keeps you captivated with his performance. He’s the true powerhouse in all the emotional scenes. I can’t stop saying how glad I was to see Hiddleston get the lead role. The wrong person could have ruined the entire movie with their performance. Jessica Chastain is becoming one of the best actresses in Hollywood. A couple of years ago I said some awful words about her and I regret saying them because she’s so talented. Her & Emily Blunt have shown that actresses can be just as mesmerizing as their male counterparts and how fun it can be when a female is given a proper part. The highpoint of her talent in this movie isn’t until the climax but she’s just wow. It’s hard to say anything without spoiling the movie but her performance is part of why her character has so much dimension. The cast is tremendous and Del Toro should feel blessed with his leads but he also brought his A game after some disappointments.

Unfortunately Ron Perlman is not in this movie.  Wish Del Toro snuck him in here somewhere but oh well.  It took Del Toro years to finally make a new movie and that new movie sucked.  Okay sucks is harsh but Pacific Rim was a failure on so many levels and then the Strain came out which was entertaining but so stupid & frustrating.  It got to a point where season 2 was becoming a burden to watch.  Del Toro has so many interesting projects lined up and some of them can’t get financing so Del Toro moved on with his haunted house project Crimson Peak.  For the first time in a very long time it felt like a movie Del Toro was making for himself.  His direction is terrific, he manages to create a smooth amount of suspense and some of the direction is very old school, which I absolutely loved.  The fades, the cuts.  This is one of Del Toro’s best looking films from cinematography to the astounding production design to a beautiful complimentary score.   Like I mentioned before the script is really weak but it takes a good director to make something like that entertaining.  I was entertained throughout and the climax is pure Del Toro fun.   I do wish the story was a little different and the ghosts had more of an impact but it’s not like Pacific Rim where the story crushed the movie. I won’t lie there are a couple of head scratching moments in this movie.  How are the Sharpes cool with living in a spooky house & not be bothered by anything? Why is the mud red? Like symbolically I get it but seriously? Why is mother ghost kind of a bitch and how can she see the future? (not really a spoiler just a ghost that yells Beware Crimson Peak from the beginning scene) I still don’t get the point of any of the ghosts! There are also some pacing issues and the film could have been shorter & I think Del Toro could have made better decisions but he makes do with what he has.

At the end of the day, Crimson Peak is a good movie.  It’s not a great movie but it’s far from terrible.  There were a lot of opportunities that Del Toro could have taken.  He could have made this something entirely different but instead went more of a cliche predictable route.  Thankfully he has the skills & cast & crew to make it entertaining. But even with the cliche & predictability it uses from other movies, Crimson Peak really stands out more than most of them.  I do think the ghosts were unnecessary since they came off more as a plot device than an actual part of the plot.  It could have benefited with more scares and I think the same story could have been told if there was more of horror element & different sequence of events. There’s a lot of homages & influences in Crimson Peak like The Shining & Days of Heaven but it still has an identity of its own.  Lastly I think movies as time goes on will get more predictable and we cannot hate them for that reason alone.  Disney movies & action movies have survived on predictability yet still manage to wow us.  It’s all about the journey that takes us there & Crimson Peak is a testament to that.  

Sadly it’s Crimson’s Peak’s marketing that really kills the movie.  It leads audiences with the perceived notion they’re going to see a thrilling horror and if the marketing was a little bit more honest, I think disappointment could have been avoided to extent. As I go over this review I realize that the film is a really good gothic romance. It's screwing with me that I thought it was going to be a horror & I wanted to slap Del Toro for saying this was going to be a haunted house movie though he has gone on the record trying to warn people it's a gothic romance.  With the right expectations this movie works.  It's a Guillermo Del Toro romance movie.  I bet a Quentin Tarantino romance movie would be very silly & violent.  I wish Crimson Peak the best and hope it does well with audiences so that way we can get Hellboy 3 & Del Toro’s passion project, At the Mountains of Madness.

My thoughts exactly.

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