Saturday, 24 October 2015

#67 CRIMSON PEAK

#67 Crimson Peak



Starring:Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver. Written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. Directed by del Toro. 119 minutes long. Budget $55 mil.

Mia Wasikowska is Edith Cushing, daughter of a rich industrialist, who as a little girl was once a victim of a ghost attack – courtesy of her mum who came to her, just after her death, to scare the living crap out of the little girl and warn her: 'BEWARE CRIMSON PEAK'. Whatever could she mean?

Fast forward 14 years later and little girl all grown up and now trying to get her first novel published, all very Enid Blyton of her, and Tom Hiddleston Sir Thomas Sharpe and mad-as-a-hatter sister, Jessica Chastain, with whom he shares a very close relationship, are in town to raise money for his red clay mining operation at a place called... CRIMSON PEAK. That added to the poster above should give you all the information to work out the rest of the film.

According to Guillermo this isn't a gothic horror film, this is a gothic romance and all that that entails.
It looks sumptuous and very, very, VERY gothic. The performances are totally intense with lots of earnest pouting, intense stares, melodrama and it's all very gothic, very Rebecca, Wuthering Heights and all those other books written by those bints back in the 1630s, you know Emily Hardy, Charles Bronteson and Steve Austin, but Guillermo stresses this isn't a horror film. Oh Sure there are ghosts, ghosts by the bucket load, especially once we finally get to CRIMSON PEAK itself – a ridiculous gothic pile built, for no explicable reason than to look gothic in the middle of a tree-less moor on top a peak, a peak of red clay called: CRIMSON PEAK.

There in the barren, desolate grounds of CRIMSON PEAK stand massive ugly mining machines all failed attempts by Thomas to successfully mine the clay. Obviously this isn't a one man band outfit and so he has the assistance of a man old handiman to help him run the machinery.

The house's most impressive feature is the hole in the roof of the main hall that rains an endless shower of leaves into the main living room of the rotting, insect infested house. The hole has a plaque nailed to it, stating that its been acknowledged to be the world's biggest ceiling hole by the Guinness Book of World Records, seriously how could they let that hole get so big? I mean obviously it would have started with a small leak, they must have noticed? I know the hall is massive so they couldn't have a ladder long enough, but surely they could have sent the mad old retainer up to the attic to fix it before it becomes the hole it ultimately is? Seriously you could drive a bus through it, sideways! And for some inexplicable reason it lets in leaves, tonnes and tonnes of leaves, day in day out, leaves, leaves leaves! But where the bloody hell do they all come from. I mean I saw one tree on that desolate, windy, winding moor and that was an old oak tree all bent and gnarled so I'm thinking it's PEAK leaf making days are behind it, but judging by the amount falling through that roof it must be right up there with the Amazon rainforest in the leave dropping league.

Anyway, I'm ranting. Is this any good? Well yes, but despite of itself, it all becomes a victim of its gothic-ness and the melodrama. The baddies act as if they're hiding something and the heroine knows there's something afoot but can't quite put her finger on it, despite the clues strewn throughout the rotting pile, but the trouble is we've already guessed what's going on way before she does and so we spend the film waiting for her to catch up and while we wait, the silliness and unintentionally funny dialogue start to undermine the good work of Guillermo has done. It looks good, Mia is terrific but it's just a little too silly, it's so in love with the gothic novels it references that it never really becomes a creature of its own design. And CRIMSON PEAK itself is a little disappointing, you want to see more of it and we do see a lot, but it never feels like a whole, just a series of gorgeous gothic set pieces, the bedroom, the grand hall, the kitchen, the attic and the hilarious basement, accessible by a ridiculous elevator and that silly grand hall.

All of the gothic melodrama tropes are in place and if you like you can play gothic bingo if you like, ticking off all the cliches before they arrive - sinister secret in the attic, sinister secret in the basement, haunted bathroom, huge ring of keys, etc etc.

The men, apart of Mia's father, are useless and the secret at the core of this film is signposted right from the offing.

All that said, this isn't half bad, it's by no means terrible and it's well directed, beautifully art directed and entertainingly acted, but it's just a little too silly and it makes the audience laugh too often and after a while that impedes the movie. So, when in the final act the claret really starts flowing and the knives start flashing you've sort of lost the spirit of things.

7/10

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