Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Crimson Peak

This will be a relatively short review. Why? Because I don’t want to go on and on about how much of a disappointment Crimson Peak was to me, and if I don’t reel myself in I will ramble on for far too long.

Crimson Peak follows young bride Edith (Mia Wasikowska) as she moves from America to rural England with her new husband (Tom Hiddleston) and his enigmatic sister (Jessica Chastain) to live in their gothic home which she suspects is haunted.
Yeah, so, Crimson Peak is being billed as a horror movie in the ads but is being called a “gothic romance” by director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). Believe me when I say that the film is neither of those things. There is no horror and absolutely no romance. It’s a stale affair that reeks of laziness on the parts of all involved.

Del Toro, who I am a HUGE fan of, recycles everything on display from his earlier films. The ghosts look just like the ones in The Devil’s Backbone (except they are red) in the way that they all seem to be seeping fluids as if they are bleeding underwater. One ghost in particular is a carbon copy of the ghostly child from that film complete with the same yellow contact lenses. The story is a mix of The Devil’s Backbone and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which del Toro produced. All the beats are exactly the same!
The script by del Toro and Matthew Robbins (Dragonslayer, *batteries not included) is so by-the-numbers and clichéd that it broke my brain a little bit. I absolutely couldn’t believe that the same person who came up with Pan’s Labyrinth thought that this uber-predictable farce was going to set the world on fire. I saw every single twist coming a mile away and had worked out what was going on before reaching the halfway point. It’s so cookie cutter that I figured there had to be some kind of morbid twist going on that would slap the audience across the face as one last shock, but nope. It’s lame from beginning to end due to the overused plot devices that we’ve seen in movies for decades. I thought you were more creative than this, Guillermo.

Even the actors don’t seem to give a shit. I’ve always felt that Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre) had zero charisma and she proves once again that my opinion definitely is correct with her somnambulant performance here. The usually likable Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers) just sort of is there to be gawked at by the female audience members (there was at least three instances where I heard a lady behind me say aloud “He is fine!”) because he does nothing here that shows he can do more than play Loki. He shares absolutely no chemistry with Wachikowska, so the “romance” del Toro talks about when describing the movie is a bunch of horseshit. I’ve also never been a fan of Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar) and her turn as the creepy sister here did nothing to change my mind. She does come to life a little in the finale, but it’s too little too late. The three core cast members all look like they would rather be anywhere else that filming this movie. Only Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy) really seems to be putting his all into the part. He has yet to make it big in feature films and I could tell he wants it so bad that he outperforms everyone here without really trying. Not that it would be hard.
And for all the accolades del Toro gets for the outstanding art direction in his films, Crimson Peak is the blandest, most forgettable looking film he has ever made. If you didn’t tell me that the house set was built specifically for this movie I would have thought they borrowed it from the remake of The Haunting. The only aspect of the design that caught my attention was the contrast of having the white snow being mixed with the red clay that surrounds the house. It looks like the ground is bleeding. Clever, but it’s the only thing that stuck with me.

Shit, even the violence is recycled from his other films!
Disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about Crimson Peak. I know Guillermo del Toro wanted to make a gothic ghost story that wasn’t set in Spain for American audiences. After seeing this mess I wish he didn’t even try. The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, even Cronos, are masterpieces that he made outside the Hollywood system and his talent and creativity shined through them like a spotlight. I don’t know if he was given notes by the studio or if he just wanted to make an “easier” movie after the massive spectacle of Pacific Rim. Whatever the case may be, Pacific Rim was infinitely more entertaining than this drivel. The movie is not scary (I think one “boo” scare caught me off guard), it’s not romantic and it’s definitely not a good film by the lauded director. Gothic, yes. Horror, no.

Maybe we should be thankful Hellboy III might never happen.

1.5 out of 5

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