Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crimson Peak REVIEW

It's Halloween time and who doesn't look forward to a good horror film? Especially one with that lovely Victorian Gothic aesthetic? And especially one by geek director Guillermo Del Toro?

Well, be warned, that his latest film 'Crimson Peak' is not quite the horror ghost slasher film the trailers and marketing make it out to be...

If it's something along the lines of SAW or Paranormal Activity or even Alien that you are expecting out of this, then you will be disappointed as it is certainly not that kind of movie. So be warned!

But, if you're looking for something closer to one of Del Toro's previous films, notably - Pan's Labyrinth... then you're on the right track!

 A young woman is haunted by warnings from her dead mother never to go to Crimson Peak. She tries to cope with this by becoming a writer of ghost fiction, much like Mary Shelly, but she has trouble getting published. When a young entrepreneur shows up at her father's company looking for investors, the two are smitten with each other, but her father suspects this man of foul play. But when her father dies suddenly, she marries him and moves abroad to his ancestral home, a broken down but beautiful house atop a clay mine that oozes red ore that her husband wishes to mine in order to produce bricks. But she is once again haunted by ghosts within the home, and it seems that her husband and her sinister sister-in-law are hiding something dark and disturbing.

Crimson Peak is a film where the supernatural and the monsters take second place to its core story, which is a romance/murder mystery. Much in the same way that Pan's Labyrinth is more about a family/war drama against which it's more fantastical elements of a fairy tale fantasy are underpinned. Whether the ghosts or the monsters are real or metaphorical is up to the audience to decide in the end.

So basically, it's not that Crimson Peak is a ghost story, so much as that Crimson Peak is a story with ghosts in it as it's main actress hints at early on in the film. This is more of an art house horror, which much of a throw-back to classic films, characterization and structure. I particular like how Del Toro brought back the old-timey iris fade out. There's lot of little things like that which make it a love letter to such eras of film. And if it's old-timey stuff that you like, then the Victorian/Gothic setting of Crimson Peak will astound you! Simply excellent costume and set design is everywhere to be found in this beautifully shot film! As such the style is truly the star of the show.

The story may leave much to be desired, being rather straight-forward and simple, and you will pretty much be able to predict who's who and what's what early on. Despite all that, there are many moments of wonderful creativity put into the frame and in how scenes are played out. There are some shockingly violent moments amidst the beauty as the tragedy unfolds. Also there is a rather unnecessary sex scene, that could've easily been implied, though thankfully it's over quick. The cast's performances aren't anything outstanding, but serviceable enough to get the job done. As I'd said earlier, the real star here is the production and FX teams who make this film look as beautiful as it does.

Crimson Peak is a good time if you're in the mood for a gothic mystery, and not so much a scary ghost story. It's worth seeing for the aesthetics alone. Sadly it's not in 3-D which could've made the visual experience even better. But if you're a fan of Del Toro's work, or you're the person who digs the stylized worlds in Tim Burton movies, or games like Alice Madness Returns, then I highly recommend Crimson Peak!