27 October 2015

CRIMSON PEAK

CRIMSON PEAK

Fake Working Title:
Haunted Peak

USA / Canada, 2015
Director: Guillermo del Toro

4/10








Among all of my friends, I was the only one who thought that the trailers for "Crimson Peak" looked rather underwhelming, so my expectations towards it were about as low as for Guillermo del Toro's previous movie "Pacific Rim" - though, whilst "Pacific Rim" turned out to be one of my favorite movies of all time, "Crimson Peak" sadly was as disappointing as its box office opening weekend.

From the trailer, I thought this would be some kinda new interpretation of the "Bluebeard" folktale, and to some extent, I was right, though it is actually more like "Bluebeard" mixed with Edgar Allen Poe's "House of Usher", mixed with b/w classics Hitchcock's "Rebecca", "The Innocents" or "The Haunting", and certain elements from "The Shining", "The Changeling" and "Suspiria", following a young aspiring writer who, after the weird death of her father, marries a mysterious aristocrat and moves with him to his remote gothic mansion in the English hills, a mansion that is full of dark secrets, scary ghosts and skeleton-filled closets...


Yes, "Crimson Peak" is an incredibly gorgeous film with tons of stunningly designed interiors, fabulous use of eerie Argento/Bava-esque lighting, clever use of blood-like red clay, a couple of rad-looking ghosts and tons of marvellous costumes - but unfortunately, del Toro is overdoing it so hard with all the striking visuals, it quickly became a real pain in the arse for me. It's a movie that is actually so beautiful, it's annoying. Ok, we get it, del Toro. You know and you love your gothic horror, but in this case you have simply overdone it and ended up falling flat on your face, and into the style-over-substance category.

The movie is so unbelievably predictable and so shockingly unscary, it's insane. From the opening scene, you pretty much get the whole thing, get in what kind of direction it will go, get how it'll end. Like my girlfriend said, the whole time you're waiting for something unexpected, something unforeseeable to happen, but after the first half hour or so, you realize that there aren't any surprises or out-of-nowhere-twists and that it will end exactly the way you imagined - and that just sucks. Of course, I/we don't think that every movie needs a gob-smacking plot twist, but... *sigh* "Crimson Peak" is soooo predictable and sooo weakly written, any kind of twist really could have saved it, at least a bit. But there is no twist, and there are no surprises, and there is nothing that makes this movie stand out
in any kind of way.


What's even worse is the fact that there is so much odd / illogical / hair-raisingly stupid / unignorable stuff, it's dreadful, [SPOILERS] for example the scene where Mia Wasikowska falls down from some height in a manner that looks and sounds as if she broke her back or neck, but in the next scene she's alive and rather well - dafuq?? Or the scene where Tom Hiddleston gets stabbed into his cheekbone with a simple knife... really? So, cheekbones are as easy to stab as a cake, or what? Terrible. I suspect del Toro did this only because it looks oh-so-pretty when the ghost of Hiddleston is swirl-bleeding CGI blood *ugh* Also, what is with the hole in the roof? Why did no-one bother to cover it? And why are there constantly falling leaves through when there are absolutely no trees around???

 The ghosts all look great but none of them creeped me out, and none of the supposed-to-be-scary scenes were in any way scary. Actually, all the ghost scenes were... erm... guess? Yup. All predictable. And the few cheap loud-music/noise jump scares... really, del Toro?? *grrr* The acting is thoroughly good, most notably the performances by Wasikowska (gorgeous as always, I love that woman), Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and especially Jim Beaver. Also, stunning cinematography (Dan Laustsen, "Mimic") and neat music (Fernando Velázquez, "The Orphanage").


I just rewatched the trailer one last time... yes, I can fully understand why "Crimson Peak" didn't connect with audiences and ultimately failed at the box office. People already seen too many sorta-similar movies over the last years, with or without del Toro name-tag ("The Others", "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", "Mama"...). Del Toro is (was?) a great filmmaker, but he never was a huge box office draw, and unless he's doing more "Blade" or "Hellboy" sequels in the future, he will never be one.

So, if this should be the final reason for the cancellation of del Toro's "Pacific Rim: Maelstrom"... *sigh* I can perfectly understand that. Bummer.
Guillermo, quo vadis?

3 comments:

  1. I liked this a lot more that you did but I really can't argue against any of your comments (the bit about the falling trees made me giggle as you are 100% correct!)

    The cast saved it for me as I love Mia and Jessica and I always had a soft spot for Jim Beaver.

    It was very pretty and will look nice on dvd but I know that it isn't a good film and probably one of G del T's worst offerings. I'll see a lot worse in the cinema before the year is out though

    K :-)

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  2. I'd heard a lot of good things about this - but then your review and another highly critical one ran past my eyes and I decided this might get watched at home for free when it's available - but no other interest to seek it out now.

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  3. An extremely poetic film, full of all the tropes of the genre but made with a los of love. This is the works of a truly passionate filmmaker.

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