Tuesday 3 November 2015

Review: Crimson Peak

Year: 2015
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston

Synopsis is here

Crimson Peak, Crimson Peak, where the women are strong and the men are weak. Guillermo Del Toro’s English language ode to his Spanish language gothic drama, is an opulent, female driven beast that leans more towards Jane Austin than Ju-on.  

Wonderfully carried by a spirited Mia Wasikowska performance, this gullet slicing melodrama is something that will likely frustrate those who fell for its dubious horror-only marketing guff. The approach from the studios has appeared to be so incorrect, that the director himself had to reinforce his intentions beforehand.

Such is the linear view of movies these days, I wouldn’t be surprised that people went into Crimson Peak expecting The Conjuring. I don’t believe many expected heavy references to the literature such as the likes of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (famously adapted by Hitchcock in 1940 and gloriously highlighted here by a deranged Jessica Chastian performance). Nor do I feel that the so called “average audience” was interested in the lighter references to the likes of Nosferatu (1922) or even the meta winks to English hammer horror (Our lead protagonists surname? Cushing). Touches like this would probably be deemed uninteresting to a crowd looking for Paranormal Activity jumps.

The feverish love for the gothic melodrama, as well as the exquisite visual design, is why this blogger adored much of Crimson Peak. It’s a film which delights itself in the mood, it creates over rigid obedience over narrative. The film gracefully defies logic. The murderous, over-elaborate plot dodges any typical rationale. Meanwhile pure white snow falls delicately over the blood red clay which Allerdale Hall resides on. A grand, decaying, English mansion seemingly miles from anywhere. 

Nowhere in England looks like this. It all feels like something out of a monstrous fairy tale.
This is what Del Toro wants. It is not a film about particulars, unless it involves references to literature. The visuals help pronounce the madness. The cast is dialled to eleven, while the setting provides the psychoanalysis with Allerdale's rotten walls and sickly green lighting. It’s a film that once again highlights Del Toro’s main interest. The monstrous designs that lie within humans and how it corrupts the environment around them.

There’s ghosts and things that go bump in the night within Crimson Peak. However Del Toro’s feature is far more infatuated in those small creepy inklings that tingle the spine, over cheaper shock tactics. It’s a ghost story that is told in the way that only Guillermo can tell them. In bold, broad and intense emotions.