I’m going to do something a little different this week, instead of a column covering several things, I’m going to review a brilliant new film I saw tonight in IMAX.
The film is CRIMSON PEAK (R 118 Minutes)
This film is first and foremost, beautiful. It’s just a gorgeous looking film and from the first image to the stunning last image, it’s very clear this is a Guillermo Del Toro film.
It’s Del Toro at his…..Del Toroiest. It’s dripping in lush red gothic atmosphere and set inside a world where the things of nightmare are just around the next corner.
It’s going to be compared to Pan’s Labyrinth but it’s closer in feel and spirit to The Devil’s Backbone in that it’s a full on Ghost story.
Like the Ghost in that film, Crimson Peak is full of Ghosts that look horrifying and macabre but are harbingers of terrible thing…s to come and serve to warn the living of the monsters that are very much alive.
Mia Wasikowska has a fragile beauty that is perfect for her role here. She brings a wide -eyed wonder to the role that every gothic horror film needs. Tom Hiddleston is amazing as Tom Sharpe, the down on his luck baron filled with big dreams and deep twisted secrets. It’s hard to watch him and not see Loki, but that’s not a bad thing, as we are already charmed by him and can see how Mia’s Edith Cushing would be as well.
The stunner in this cast though is Jessica Chastain as Lucille, Tom’s scheming sister.
A fun exercise would be to watch her in this and then watch her brilliant role in The Martian and realize they are the same actress. She has always been an actress who can literally disappear inside a role and, brother, she gives the films most unhinged performance and it’s a joy to watch, especially in the bonkers 3rd act.
Guillermo Del Toro excels at this kind of film: a dark morality tale disguised as a horror film.
This film isn’t really a horror film in the traditional sense. There are very very few of the cheap jump scares that hack directors try to pass off as horror ( I’m looking at you Paranormal Activity) and it’s not nearly as break neck paced as the trailer would have you believe.
This is a film that takes its time. It sets the table on the world, the characters and the stakes with careful attention to detail before it starts picking up speed. In fact, it’s a full 45 minutes by my watch, before they actually arrive at Crimson Peak. It spends the first act in, of all places, Buffalo, New York.
If your idea of horror is SAW or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, then you may not enjoy the languid pace of this film. It can seem almost leisurely compared to what passes as horror these days. But for me, I was enthralled from start to finish. The film has one of the most hauntingly beautiful final shots of any film I’ve seen in the last year, maybe longer.
I loved the film, but then again, I love Del Toro. I have been in the tank for him since Blade 2, which sadly was the first film of him I saw.
A word of warning though. The film does have some graphic violence in places. Del Toro does like to have characters inflict wounds on each other with knives. If that sort of thing makes you squirm, prepare to cover your eyes a lot during the last 20 minutes or so.
I would give this one 5 stars out of 5.
Until next time, keep the projector threaded.