Crimson Peak (2015): A Macabre Review.

Crimson PeakStarring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Hello again, you awesome creatures.  You know, I don’t know what it is about movies that take place in the past that I enjoy so much.  My theory, however, is that because I have such a growing disdain for humanity these days, it’s nice to watch something that takes place in a time when things were simpler and there was none of the garbage we’re almost constantly exposed to on television, radio and the internet.  In this case, I’m talking about the new Guillermo Del Toro film Crimson Peak.  I didn’t have very high hopes going into it, due to my not being very impressed by the trailer.  So let’s go over it and see what the end result was.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) faced tragedy as a child when her mother passed away.  But after her death, Edith’s mother returned to her daughter in spirit form on two different occasions in her life to warn her to stay away from a place called Crimson Peak.  Fast forward years later.  Now a young woman, Edith is trying to make a life for hersef as an author, when one day she meets Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who makes a strong impact on her.  After Edith’s father is murdered, Edith marries Thomas and goes back to his home in England to live with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).  It isn’t long before Edith starts to see and hear strange things in the house, and on top of that something is very off about Thomas and Lucille.

Director Guillermo Del Toro has always had a flair for visuals and a creative story, and Crimson Peak is no exception.  Everything from the set designs to the costumes to Allerdale Hall itself (which is the actual name of the house that is on “Crimson Peak”) is just pure eye candy.  The Allerdale Hall house itself, despite being a run-down mess, is still so beautiful that I would love to own such a place.  And the place is gigantic; something like 3, maybe 4 stories of beautiful carved wood, paintings, curtains, and a hole in the roof where there are leaves perpetually falling down into the house. Attention to detail is never wasted in this movie.

Crimson Peak

“Sooo, you have an elevator installed right?”

There was a good mix of practical effects and CGI throughout the movie, with both complementing the other in  a way that many other films haven’t.  The ghosts of Lady Sharpe and Edith’s mother themselves, while having CGI enhancing their appearance, were actually played by the one and only Doug Jones, which I didn’t even realize even though I saw his name in the opening credits.  The practical effects were impressive in itself.  We get to see a head repeatedly smashed into a sink, a knife or two going into various body parts, just to name a couple of examples.  It was very satisfying.

Performances were great all around as well.  Mia Wasikowska made an excellent display of emotional range throughout the movie, which was essential given what the character Edith was going through.  I really rooted for her to get through it all in one piece.  Tom Hiddleston didn’t disappoint as the charming outsider with a secret, and Jessica Chastain worked well with Hiddleston as the increasingly unstable sister Lucille.  Charlie Hunnam also was great as Dr. Alan McMichael, who I couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for, as his feelings for Edith were dashed as he watched her fall for another man.

I only had a couple of issues with the movie, and one of those is nitpicking more than anything.  The nitpicking thing had to do with the appearance of the ghosts.  There is an earlier scene where Dr. McMichael is showing Edith pictures with latent images of ghosts.  These ghosts had normal looking faces like you would see in real life pictures of supposed ghosts.  But every ghost seen in person by Edith has a grotesque appearance completely different from those pictures. I mean, Edith’s mother had nothing but  a blackened skull for a face.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the look of the ghosts; it just seemed to lack consistency is all.

Crimson Peak

“So I took this role because it was a little more low-key. Get it, like Loki? I’ll just show myself out.”

My other problem is a scene where someone ( I won’t say who to avoid any possible spoilers) takes a third story fall, slamming back-first into the railing on the second floor, then hitting the floor on the bottom.  This person not only no-sold the broken back that would have happened from the railing slam, but said person seriously hurt their leg as well, and was running around later and barely selling it.  Not to mention that wasn’t even everything that happened to this person.  So I just found that kind of distracting.  WWE superstar John Cena would be proud.  I could also point out the occasional jump scares and abrupt musical stings, but there were lots of good tension building and genuinely creepy moments which completely made up for the cheap scares.  So I’ll give that whole thing a pass this time.

I fully recommend you take the time to see Crimson Peak.  It does have a slower pace than some movies, but the slow burn is well worth it considering all the pros that I talked about.  It was a pleasant surprise given the trailer, and Guillermo Del Toro continues to impress me with his creations.  And given the options we have in theaters for October, you should be watching a horror flick and nothing else to send Hollywood a message.  But that’s all for me this time around. Rest in peace.

Macabre Rating: 4 out of 5 tombstones

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