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With a predictable story, lack of any real scares or thrills, and no inspiring monsters, Crimson Peak disappoints on a multitude of levels.
Trigger Warning(s): Gore
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
Within the 1800s there was a girl named Edith (Mia Wasikowska). She was an inspiring writer, one who wanted to do ghost stories but had one of her first manuscripts rejected due to it not having romance in the plot. Now, romance was slightly foreign to her since her mother passed when she was 10 and her father never remarried. However, ghosts were familiar. For, after her mother’s funeral, she saw her mother’s ghost and it wasn’t some gentle apparition, but an eroding corpse.
But now, at the age of 24, in an effort to appease one possible publisher, she begins to add romance to her already written book. Which, thanks to the entrance of Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) into her life, it seems the romance will not be imagined but based off of authenticity. Issue is, though, with the entrance of Thomas into her life comes Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and her father Carter (Jim Beaver) disapproving of their courtship.
An issue which doesn’t remain for long, thus leading Edith and Thomas to have the ability to get married. A decision which Edith begins to question as she moves into Tom’s family home, the nicknamed Crimson Peak, and she finds herself once more experiencing apparitions trying to interact with her. All of which push her to try to discover the truth which love made her blind to see.
When it comes to any film which is labeled under the horror genre, arguably expectations drop exponentially. However, with Chastain, Hiddleston, Wasikowska, and then Guillermo del Toro’s name attached, it brings a sense of hope and bewilderment. Hope due to the fact the horror genre, at least in American cinema, has long lost its focus on storytelling and has instead focused on jump scares and gore. Yet, being that most of these names are not known for horror, but often respectable movies, the idea they came together for a horror film is strange, yet they do far better than expected.
First, while used sparingly, the gore has such detail that it is hard to not appreciate del Toro seemingly more so being about practical effects, and the use of makeup, vs. how his contemporaries largely use CGI in order to do damn near everything.
Secondly, while the script isn’t awe-inspiring, at the very least one could argue that each actor plays their roles in such a way where their performances can compensate for the script. For while Wasikowska as the naïve girl isn’t anything new, neither in film or her repertoire, she remains likable and the type you want to root for till the end. Then, when it comes to Chastain, despite her character being written to obviously be up to no good since the beginning, she presents this sort of madness which does make you think that she could do so well as a villain if she takes the opportunity again. Then, when it comes to Hiddleston, I liked that he teeter-tottered between someone who perhaps was misunderstood to someone who simply used whoever it took for his dream to come true. If only because it made it so he had perhaps the only complex character of the film.
Probably the main draw when it comes to a del Toro picture, at least for me, is that you expect to see the same imagination that went into Pan’s Labyrinth, be brought into everything he makes. So with Silent Hills being dead, and of no chance of revival, so came the hope we would have gotten a taste of the fears and scares we could have experienced in that game. Which, unfortunately, didn’t happen.
To begin, the jump scares were far and few between, and when they happen they didn’t really shock nor scare you. Also, the ghost themselves, while interesting looking, surely weren’t that entertaining toward the imagination since there weren’t made to look like demonic, nor angelic, figures, but simply dead people who died violently. Which isn’t as interesting as you may imagine.
Another issue is that, as noted, the story makes a lot of things obvious. The main issue though is how obvious Chastain is the villain and this is done with the way she acts, looks, how the camera focuses on these keys she holds, and pretty much if you have ever watched a horror, mystery, or thriller before, you will catch on quick to anything which would be considered a twist or turn.
On The Fence
Now, this perhaps is just a personal issue, but I would have liked some sort of epilogue or any sort of hint about what happened with Edith’s manuscript after all she went through, much less how Alan (Charlie Hunnam) was. For while Alan wasn’t interesting enough to go into during the overview of the story, at the same time he was her friend for ages and I wanted to know between him surviving, and maybe marrying Edith, whether or not that happened.
Up until halfway through the film, often the transition to different time periods is met with the scene ending with a focus on a specific item or feature. Which I am on the fence about since seemingly they may have been made to point out hints during the editing, or shooting, process, but when it appears on screen is seems to be pointing out the obvious. Which I felt a little insulted by since nothing about this film is so complex that they need to direct our focus like, “Over here! Look at this for a clue of what is to come!”
Overall: TV Viewing
Frankly, I’m severely disappointed. I have never seen a horror movie in theaters and was expecting to be scared out of my wits. Instead, I’m presented with quality performances, a predictable script, and hardly a single moment in which I’m shocked, in awe, or frightened. Thus making me understand why, while acknowledging I saw this on a Thursday evening, there was only me and one other person in the theater. For truly, this film kind of sucks. To the point, it really is only the special effects and performances which kept this from being something labeled “Skip It.” Though I would be lying to you if I didn’t say the temptation was strong.