CRIMSON PEAK (2015): “not many blue troughs”

Love a bit of gothic, me. I think I reviewed Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre at some point and sang the praises, and if I haven’t well I’d wax lyrical about it here too. But I’m writing about Del Toro’s most recent masterpiece in atmospherics, Crimson Peak. So yeah, gothic. Red, blood, bigass victorian houses, fanciful linguistics and all that tosh is out in full force, nearing the cliché and closer to being a run of the mill box ticking exercise.

So. Do atmospherics at the expense of plot make a movie? Well, yes if you want a tone poem but Malick, Innaritu and the Arthouse scene is over that way. Crimson Peak has actual characters with motivations and histories as intriguing as the titular manor – cast as a veritable victorian Amityville – and a trite, melodramatic narrative to accompany it all. Yeah, I’m not calling that a negative but it might be. Simple story executed with a lot of soul and heart, with beautiful visuals. Who cares if you can see everything coming if the ride is this sumptuous?

It’s elegantly played by Jessica Chastain, a classic deranged murderer, Tom Hiddleston, the regal man caught in moral strain, and my favourite actress – Mia Wasikowska. She can do no wrong in my eyes. They all treat the script with a delicacy and intent, leaving some passages of dialogue brilliantly played precisely when they need to escalate. Mia’s reaction to her father’s corpse and Tom’s false dressing down are the particular highlights – the former is one of the most startlingly realistic realisations of death that I’ve seen, encroaching on TJ Mackey territory.

So we call it a film of greatness, with a grand setback – the ghosts in the narrative. I love me a decent game, but in contrast to the beautifully realised sets, the CGI ghosts smack of an older Resident Evil quality wise, but have amazing art design that they still fit within the twisted tale, but I can’t help but feel disappointed by their realisation.

Final note: Crimson Peak > Pan’s Labyrinth. Come at me.


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