Crimson Peak – 3 out of 5
There’s no doubt about it that Guillermo del Toro is a visionary director who has a unique eye to bring to life the strange, macabre and fantastic. He made my favorite Blade film, gave me two (and I really want a third) Hellboy films and gave us the endlessly exciting and fun Pacific Rim. In all his films, including less mainstream features like The Devil’s Backbone, the visuals within the story are unique and sometimes spooky and sometimes hauntingly beautiful. Just the presence of this incredible director/writer alone was enough to make me excited for Crimson Peak but do I enjoy it as much as other films by the man? (When I ask these questions, just act like you can’t see the score yet.)
After losing what’s left of her wealthy family, Edith Crushing (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Sharpe takes her away to live in his dilapidated estate with his antagonistic sister; Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Soon, Edith learns that she isn’t living the rest of her days with the man of her dreams but rather is stuck in a haunted home that holds a horrifying past that could cost her life…
|It's like something out of a Tim Burton movie...and if this house was from a Tim Burton|
movie, it would be played by Johnny Depp.
Right away, there’s absolutely no denying how hauntingly beautiful everything in this film looks. The visuals that del Toro delivers are gothic-ly gorgeous and the use of colors to make the film look like an old Technicolor feature really is pleasing to the eye literally every second of the film. Additionally, the way the production marries practical effects with digital effects (a staple from del Toro) really make the ghost moments spooky and absolutely astounding to look at. It also helped that you had the god of bringing spooky stuff to life; Doug Jones, playing the apparitions. Seriously, that dude is the go-to guy when you need a great monster or a fantastic creature that doesn’t fit normal human measurements.
|I never found the film outright scary but it definitely had some creepy moments.|
|You can see that he's thinking about how Dead is a "dang idjit."|
Another element that I really enjoyed about the film was a lot of the performances. Jim Beaver plays Edith’s father and, although he meets a terrible demise, the moments he is in the film are fantastically performed and really stand out during his short time in the feature. However, the best and most outrageously amazing performance in the entire feature has to go to Jessica Chastain. Every scene she is in is just incredible and she is addicting to watch. She masters how mysterious and how threatening the character has to be and just commands attention.
|Let's just be real here...Chastain is amazing in everything she does.|
|The shoulders are so poofy because they're|
absorbing her tears.
In reality, there weren’t any performances that I didn’t enjoy but there were definitely some I don’t feel matched up or kept close pace with the stronger performances. Mia Wasikowska is decent in the role but is easily overshadowed by Chastain in a lot of scenes. Now, as much as I love Tom Hiddleston (especially as Loki), I wasn’t too impressed with his performance. I didn’t think he was bad but he wasn’t as commanding as I’ve seen him in the past. Finally, one of the weaker performances of the film belonged to Charlie Hunnam—who played a doctor who had his love eyes on Edith. I love Hunnam in Pacific Rim and as Jax in Sons of Anarchy but, in this film, he didn’t really feel like he was giving his all to the role and sorta felt like he was just going through the motions. It’s not a bad performance—because, like I said, I didn’t see any truly bad performances in this film—but he’s not as good as I know he can be and have seen him in the past.
|Maybe I was just having shell shock from not seeing Hunnam in a biker jacket.|
Finally, the story of the film is pretty unique as it is a mixture of a mystery, a ghost story and a bit of love thrown in—which is why it is described as a gothic love tale. The story is pretty interest but it too often dragged for me. For example, the film feels like it takes too long for the tale to get to Crimson Peak and matters aren’t helped by the courting ritual between Edith and Thomas feeling like it is going too fast and feeling like it took a shortcut as it went from them being strangers to them being in love after a single, but pretty damn cool, waltz scene. There are also some plot threads that are hinted at and established but never really come into play at all and I found myself wondering why exactly they were included. Finally, the story and the twists that come at the end are definitely predictable. This didn’t necessarily make it bad but the ending and these twists just felt too telegraphed and obvious and it did take a film that has all the elements of a great del Toro film and made it a passable del Toro movie.
|But come to think of it, you really don't need a lot of explaining as to why someone|
would fall in love with this gorgeous man.
After watching Crimson Peak, I struggled quite a bit with the score I was going to give it because the visuals are so breathtaking that I wanted to give it a 4 on that fact alone but the story is so predictable and too many performances are so mundane that my enjoyment level when it concerns story and entertainment was just average. Technically speaking, the film is terrifically made but I just wasn’t too enthralled with the story.