This is what the dilemma was tonight: finish up writing about days 3-5 blog or share my opinion on Crimson Peak as I am so frustrated with it. By now, we know the outcome — the latter.
There was a lot of drama around the production and development of Guillermo del Toro’s new gothic romance/”horror” film Crimson Peak. Between the quarrels with Legendary and Universal, R-rating vs a PG-13 one, and a lot of other back-stage problems, it sure comes as no surprise that the movie has suffered immensely.
Crimson Peak follows an aspiring writer, Edith Cushing, who is running away from a family tragedy. She marries Thomas Sharpe, a mysterious stranger. She goes to live with him and his sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe but then she starts to find out that the Sharpe’s home is filled with ghosts.
If you are expecting a ghost story, which would be only logical considering it’s advertised as one, you need to look the other way. The most annoying thing for me is when films’ trailers make you expect one thing, only to find out it is completely different. Such was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron, it was presented as a darker, bleaker and serious Marvel film, only to be disappointed when you found is was the usual trying to be funny comicbook film. Ghost stories I find extremely interesting and captivating and for the first act I thought there might be one, but as the plot continued to unravel you get a conventional, straightforward, style over substance movie, which wants to be more, but fails to hit the mark as something truly original.
It was not a horror, I could have gotten over that if the gothic romance actually worked, I wouldn’t have been nearly as underwhelmed with del Toro’s latest movie. Mia Wasikowska, Edith Cushing in the movie, has borderline no sexual or romantic chemistry with Tom Hiddleston. The screenwriters tried too hard to make his Thomas Sharpe sympathetic, but also multilayered so we end up with a great performance and a weak, plainly boring character. Combine that with the annoying and stereotypical portrayal of the damsel in distress, who is naïve, yet feministic and you get an unexciting cliché that makes you check the clock every five minutes. Edith has no real arc–she starts in one place, as one person, and in the end she is still the same, not much had changed in her by the end of the film. Jessica Chastain’s acting I did not fall for in this film. She has proven she can be stellar, but her comedic performance, which was not meant to be comedic, looks like a pay-check thing she did.
The repetitiveness of some scenes is just excruciatingly tedious and simply dreary. After getting to know Thomas in the first part of the movie, the rest of the movie takes place in a creepy house where Edith wanders around slowly as she waves around the candles at the dark. At a certain point, I felt this is what the rest of the movie will be like and I wasn’t that far from the truth. As the audience is alluded, no, basically told, what is going to happen next, Crimson Peak turns into a race against time as starts to get irksome to just wait for the main character to put the pieces together. The director, or the writers, have made a major mistake by including a certain conversation early on, as our patience as viewers quickly evaporates.
Now, visually, Guillermo is a mastermind… to some extent. The production design, though breathtaking and gorgeous, makes no sense at times. Yes, the inside of the house is so beautiful and astonishing, you wonder where this was shot, but then things like giant holes in the roof start to lack any reasoning but the director’s need for falling snow inside the house to juxtapose to the dark and broody setting. The cinematography, however, is old-fashioned, which is not a bad thing per se, but when it makes the film look like a TV movie which lacks the needed scope, it is unsatisfactory.
The rating, I think, could have been PG-13 when it comes to the sexual content, because that’s how the scene is shot. The gore was at R-rated level, but it would have had the same effect if it hadn’t been as bloody. Del Toro could have saved himself some trouble by cutting down a scene or two so there won’t be any fights between the two studios.
Drawing the line, Crimson Peak is a movie with great performances and stylish setting, which try to make up for the lack of gripping story, but generally fails to impress as the director has gone over his head by focusing too much on the production design.
6.5 out of 10 stars