"Ghosts Are Real. This Much I Know."
Guillermo Del Toro made a film that lacks invention. Can we think about how strange that sounds?
Now I wouldn’t skip this movie entirely. There’s a bunch of things about it that still make it worth a watch, but most of them have to do with the production design. The building sense of claustrophobia set up through the scenic and background design is killer, and Del Toro’s direction makes us feel as though we are observers lurking in the ceilings and walls. So in this ghost story, we are often put in the same position as the ghosts. The ghosts themselves are one of the coolest bits of grotesquery I’ve seen in a while, imbued with solidity while still firmly ethereal. The house our heroine finds herself living in during the second half is the most interesting character in the film, and I bemoan that it takes us so long to wind up there. A shaft in the ceiling opens the house up to the elements, and that’s when the cinematography starts to shine.
We aren’t allowed to see everything the world of the story has to offer us, though, as most of the action is set around the budding romance between Edith (Mia Wasikowska) and Thomas (Tom Hiddleston), which I can never quite get behind. The actors share some chemistry, but not enough to prop up the cliché-ridden dialogue and the slow, slow, slow pacing. Hiddleston makes a dashing turn as the film’s leading man, but his character lacks substance. Wasikowska is given the harder task of portraying a character we are constantly told is brilliant and counter-culture but who in the end lacks any sort of meaningful agency, aside from a brief scene near the end of the film which was exciting but unfulfilling; she drops the ball a bit. Jessica Chastain, as Hiddleston’s sister Lucille, is given the most material to work with but often succumbs to “Jupiter Ascending Syndrome” and takes the whole thing much too seriously.
“Crimson Peak” feels like it’s trying to belong to many genres, but ultimately can’t commit enough to one to be successful. Some of the visuals are truly stunning, but they rely on the script to be completely effective and the script lets them down. Hard. Del Toro, you’re cool, but if this is the thing that’s been distracting you from that “Monster” adaptation I’ve been waiting for, I think you might want to reexamine your priorities.
Spiked tea or hot toddies.
-Drink whenever rain or snow falls
-Drink when you see a ghost
-Drink when you see insects
-Drink when blood is spilled
-Drink when someone screams or cries out in pain
-Drink when you see the dog. Yes, there’s a dog.
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). "Crimson Peak" was produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is rated "R" with a run time of 119 minutes.
Special thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helped make this article happen!