A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro
Produced By: Guillermo Del Toro, Callum Greene, Thomas Tull
Written By: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
Running Time: 119 Minutes
A defining quality of Guillermo Del Toro is that he is a visually focused director. His style encompasses something imaginative that few others can emulate.
Through colour, story and metaphor, Del Toro has a way of telling his story in several ways within the same film, which is indicative of the level of effort he puts in to his pictures.
His first film in a while that isn’t about a cigar-smoking demon or a giant robot gallivanting around the city throwing submarines at monsters, Crimson Peak is a comparatively toned down affair that is a serious return to the Del Toro we fell in love with after Pan’s Labyrinth back in 2006.
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska, Crimson Peak is a gothic romance tale that takes place over an undercurrent of a conventional horror setting.
Drawing parallels between love and death, Crimson Peak is masterfully told through the qualities of Del Toro, however, like Pan’s Labyrinth, it’s one to revisit time and time again to fully appreciate the picture and all it’s wonderful symbolism.
Tragedy strikes young Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), an aspiring writer, and it is shortly after that she finds herself torn between newfound mysterious love and the fondness for her childhood friend. In the ominous setting of a labyrinthine, historic and gothic mansion that has a personality of its own, the past and present are explored in a ghastly, bloody fashion. There is however, something beautiful to emerge from all the horror and mystery, which intelligently throws a juxtapositional metaphor in the mix.
Associating with siblings Thomas and Lucille Sharp (Hiddleston and Chastain) as well as Dr. Alan McMichael (Hunnam), Cushing’s life of confinement and denial is thrown through a loop as she breaks away into something straight out of one of her fantastical novels.
Shocking, gruesome, touching and moving all the same, Crimson Peak is a widespread piece with multi-faceted structure that showcases Del Toro’s style exquisitely.
Marketed as an outright horror affair, Crimson Peak is not quite as terrifying as the promotional material makes it out to be. That being said, the film has numerous moments that send chills down the spine of the viewer. These primarily come from Edith’s late night ventures through creaking corridors and mysterious doorways.
Encountering ghosts, should and spirits, Edith’s journey of discovery is one of haunting visuals, but mostly gripping anticipation.
Del Toro’s famous use of representative colour schemes gallantly returns for Crimson Peak. A consistent blend of blues, greens, reds and oranges dominate the colour pallet of the film, serving as a stamp of Del Toro’s mastery. Each colour tells it’s own story, but few are more striking than the dominant and unforgiving reds (or crimsons for that matter) .
The contrasting deep red blood-like clay against the harsh winter snow is visually brilliant as it draws in the audience, forwards the story and is as striking as one could hope for within a genre piece such as this.
The first two acts appear much slower than the conclusion, however it works very well in establishing the characters relationships and arks. Although Edith’s ark is not very significant for a protagonist, the development of Thomas and Lucille Sharpe more than make up for it.
Alan McMichael’s contributions, particularly later on in the picture are fantastic as they add extra tension and weight to the narrative. With an enormous cast on show, performances are without fault across the board.
Seeing Chastain out of her norm is refreshing as it demonstrates her vast array of talents, whilst Hiddleston simply steals the show in one of his best career performances to date.
If there were one standout flaw with Crimson Peak, it would be nothing to do with the story, the effects, the performances or the style. Certain edits within the film fail to mask the illusion of back-and-forth sequences being made up of multiple takes with one dialogue track over the top.
During numerous conversation scenes, the character who is speaking will be matched up with the sync sounds for the front on shot (as expected) however when the reverse shot of whoever they’re talking to is spliced in, their mouth becomes completely out of sync and highly distracting.
This happens all the time, sure, but with Crimson Peak, it’s particularly noticeable and results in the audience not being as invested in the scene as one would have hoped.
A smaller picture for Del Toro but in many ways his biggest yet, Crimson Peak tackles bold and profound themes in an intelligent, experienced fashion.
Through aspects and approaches synonymous with Del Toro, Crimson Peak is one of his best and a big recommendation for anyone who fancies a love story built upon the foundation of gothic horror.