There’s a lot to be said about Guillermo Del Toro as a director, his ability to create stories that will stand the test of time, to me, is why he’s an auteur. The DNA of his filmic history is strong, has limited defect and is clearly defined. Crimson Peak, Del Toro’s latest plunge into the mixture of Hollywood versus Art House, however, is a convoluted one. As the advertisements may suggest, Crimson Peak is not intended to scare the desensitized youth culture of our generation, instead it tries to enthrall you with it’s story, and at its heart, it’s where the peak shines brightest.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author is torn between two loves – a childhood friend (Charlie Hunnam) and an entrepreneurial outsider with enigmatic intention (Tom Hiddleston), who’s joined closely by his Sister (Jessica Chastain) in all avenues of his life. In the wake of a family tragedy, Cushing makes a decision that leads her into a foreboding darkness, it seems that escaping one evil only to be dragged into another is the mother of all irony. Well, without the humour, of course!
The fabric of Del Toro’s repertoire is expansive in genre and quality and typically falls into the previously mentioned categories, or in this case, there seems to be elements of both, regardless of this, you’re either going to side with one or the other and if you’re of an indecisive ilk, you’ll taper the finely crafted line in between. Whatever your preference is! People will experience films from his catalog that wash over their sensibility or simply doesn’t make them hard. Then, people will experience one of his films that moves them on some profound emotional level that they’ll never let slip from memory. The problem arises when you have creations of such majesty under your belt that anything else you create will fall into their shadow. Crimson Peak is no exception to this rule. There is beauty here, a very dark and macabre beauty that brutally digs in it’s heels and won’t relinquish or be uprooted. But the execution of this beauty is where it falls.
As an actor, Chastain is seductive, her ability and presence is undeniable, along with the rest of the cast. Bringing their ‘A Game’ is not in question, the beautiful set designs (albeit with a little too much of the visual effect spoon for my liking) coincide with Del Toro’s greatest works, what is it about the Crimson Peak aftermath that leaves you with a feeling of mediocrity? It boils down to substance. Please don’t misunderstand however, there is substance here, but it’s nothing we haven’t been introduced to before in previous works. The gravitas is lessened and what could have been a true Gothic horror with streaks of what made Mary Shelley so famous is lost in the mix.
I for one, am willing to overlook, we’ve seen the lesser of Del Toro’s work (yes I side with the Art House, get over it) and we’ve seen the best of what his beautifully twisted mind can accomplish. Crimson Peak resides somewhere in the middle. Yet, by the fruits of his past productions, it’s a clear definition that water will always wash over and blood will always stain. Some of Del Toro’s films will reside in my genetic structure and that passion will pass on through my bloodline ala’ genetic memory! Crimson Peak, however shall not. Just remember…
Blood is thicker than water.
3 / 5
Dir: Guillermo Del Toro
Scr: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam
Prd: Guillermo Del Toro, Callum Greene, Jon Jashni, Jillian Share, Thomas Tull
DOP: Dan Lausten
Music: Fernando Velazquez
Run Time: 119 min
Crimson Peak is available on Digital HD from 8th February 2016 and on Blu-ray and DVD from 15th February 2016.