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03 November 2015 @ 09:02 pm
Film Review: Crimson Peak  
For Halloween, I watched Crimson Peak starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain as it seemed like a good spooky holiday film.

My very brief, non-spoilery report is that this is not really a horror film. Rather, it's a film that has ghosts in it but if you're someone who tends to avoid horror movies, have no fear. This film really, truly, is not that scary. It has a couple of gruesome moments but the majority of it features a lot of gothic tropes and actors sporting hair that is not their own.

Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) is a young American construction heiress who wants to break with social convention and be a published writer rather than a socialite. As a young girl, her mother died and shortly thereafter appeared to Edith as a ghost warning her to "Beware of Crimson Peak!" Years later, Edith meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), a dashing gentleman from England who is seeing Edith's father about a loan for a business venture. Sharpe might be titled but he's dead broke. Not that this matters to Edith who until then had very little enthusiasm for getting married. But Sharpe compliments her writings, finds her intelligence attractive, plus he looks like Tom Hiddleston. Edith is slowly falling in love, much to her father's upset who dislikes Sharpe for some reason. Sharpe is also accompanied by his sister, Lucille (Chastain) who grudgingly gives her approval for Sharpe to woo Edith. After the sudden death of Edith's father, Edith and Sharpe are married and they along with Lucille return to the Sharpes' family estate called Allerdale Hall. From the moment Edith enters Allerdale, ghosts start popping up everywhere around her but only she can see them. Disturbed by this, she starts investigating the house as Lucille and Sharpe slowly start behaving increasingly oddly which leaves Edith wondering if she's become part of something sinister.

The best word I can use to describe this movie is 'gothic.' This movie is REALLY GOTHIC. If you've ever read a gothic novel or even perused a list of gothic tropes, the plot of this movie will be incredibly straight forward. And there in lies my largest complaint about this movie. The plot and the characterizations are paper thin. From the second Thomas and Lucille Sharpe entered the picture, I pretty much saw the ending. My other annoyance was that due to the way the story gets told, we the audience are always a little bit ahead of Edith in the Realizations Department which I found deeply frustrating. For example, Allerdale Hall is affectionately called Crimson Peak by the locals but Edith is unaware of this until she's been living there for days. But we as the audience know this because the film is called Crimson Peak so when the lightbulb goes off for Edith at minute 60 that she's exactly where her mother warned her against, I don't feel concerned along with her; I'm just biding my time until she gets to the next realization that the audience got told awhile ago.

If you're someone who loves watching a gothic story unfold with all the exaggerated set pieces and character hysterics then this is the film for you. The set designs are great and director Guillermo del Toro leaves no visual detail unattended. The walls of the estate literally drip blood red ooze during the end sequence while women's nightgowns billow out from behind them as they run. It doesn't get any more GOTHIC than that. If, however, you are someone who prefers intricate plotting and surprising character twists, this is not going to be your movie. I tend to be someone who leans a little more into this camp so while I enjoyed parts of Crimson Peak, a large part of me kept wondering why this movie was made. While I enjoy visuals, the look of the movie for whatever reason wasn't enough for me.

Acting-wise most of the actors make it out fairly well. The thin plot and thinner characters made it so not too many were challenged but the core trio kept things lively enough. I do have to applaud Wasikowska and Hiddleston for delivering some of the most cringe-worthy, hyperbolic dialogue about love with absolute straightfaces and total committment. Chastain, I was less enthusiastic about. Part of it was that her character felt incredibly one note but Chastain going at it 10000000% the second she appeared made the thinness of her role all the more annoying. Still, as a combination, the acting in this movie is probably one of its assets.

In the end, if you're a fan of any of the main actors and/or love gothic stories, go see this movie. Don't be afraid of getting scared. It's seriously not that scary and just close your eyes for the two gory scenes in the movie. For anyone hoping for a lot of twists and turns in their movie plot, BEWARE OF CRIMSON PEAK.