Movie review: Crimson Peak (2015) (spoilerfree)

Crimson Peak is the newest Guillermo del Toro movie, starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain.

Now, I can’t tell you much about what the movie is actually about, without giving too much away. And I absolutely think it’s better to go into this movie without knowing too much about it – I personally went in having only seen one trailer, once, and a couple of posters, and figured I might as well give it a go.

Spoiler: I really liked it.

Let’s get the most basic thing out of the way first: what genre is this movie? This is surprisingly hard to define, actually. It’s a gothic horror, but it’s also mainly a romance, but then it’s also almost a thriller with just a slight paranormal edge. It’s way less about ghosts than you’d expect, there are definitely very human sides to the story that are much more important than just ghosts. The best way I can describe it? It’s a Guillermo del Toro movie. I’m also, just for the sake of being more clear for those unfamiliar with GdT, going to describe this movie as “a romance with a small hint of ghosts and Scary Things and also some gross moments.”

But much more importantly: Crimson Peak is a beautiful movie. Absolutely stunning. If you can handle some scary and/or gory moments, I really recommend seeing this movie, just for the sake of the beautiful shots. From the costumes to the locations & set design to the cinematography, this movie is pure art. I may have gasped at some of the sights. I can throw a whole bunch of pretty words at you (think along the lines of ‘exquisite’, ‘stunning’, ‘aesthetically pleasing’) but really it’s practically an experience in itself and you should probably go see for yourself.

The story itself is mostly just disturbing. It’s not actually clear (to me) for quite a long time what’s really happening, though I had some inklings along the way. But this is a very human story with very human characters. In fact, I thought it was refreshing to see characters this dark and brooding and suspicious and ultimately tragic, but who’d also be making breakfast and were enthusiastic about getting machinery to actually work. It had a sense of realness, these characters really were actual people rather than evil stereotypes. They weren’t just smooth and stoic, but they made mistakes, they lost their temper and struggled to regain it, they cried at times. I really can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.

I do feel a need here to point out though that this is still a very messed up story that had me slightly worried at times. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security because “oh this is actually a romance” and “look at these beautiful shots”. We’re still talking about ghosts and deaths and the movie definitely tries to scare you at several points (and succeeds).

I did wonder if the ghosts were actually necessary though. I understand that this is a Guillermo del Toro film, as I’ve pointed out a couple of times (it’s so easy to be able to clarify things simply by using a name). So obviously there have to be Creepy Things™. But as I left the cinema, I did start to wonder about a couple of things. And truthfully, I’d have to watch the movie again to be more sure of this, but I get the feeling that the movie sometimes tried too hard to be Creepy™, and also that it had decided to go into a certain direction for a while and dropped hints that it was going there, just to throw it all overboard and go somewhere else instead. I’m still having moments where I go “wait, but what about-“.

But I mean, sure, I can keep picking it apart and nitpick at every detail that raised a question mark in the back of my mind. But I can also just sit back and enjoy something anyway.

So here’s a bonus point in favour of the movie: it’s a dark movie, yes, very scary and creepy. But it’s not dark dark. You can actually see what’s happening on the screen. With the recent trend of literally making films and series so dark you have to kind of squint and just listen to what’s happening (I’m looking at you, Daredevil), this specific brand of film making where it’s obviously dark and scary but also entirely visible is truly appreciated. To me, it shows proper skill as a filmmaker, so kudos to del Toro and the rest of the visual team. Job seriously well done.

Also related to the visuals: this movie has the creepy atmosphere down perfectly. My local cinema always does breaks in the middle of the movie, and during this break I went downstairs to the lobby with another girl, and we could both tell we were still stuck in the atmosphere by how we both got scared by the elevator’s creaking.

Basically: if you’re okay with some creepy things and some gore, I definitely recommend Crimson Peak. It has beautiful costumes and even more beautiful cinematography, the story is appropriately disturbing yet also refreshingly human, and just overall this is a very enjoyable movie. It’s also the kind of movie that you can both just sit back and enjoy and then move on, or you can really dig into it and look closely at the dynamics between the characters and what’s really going on and what’s really happening. There are layers to this movie that I don’t think I’ll pick up properly unless I watch it multiple times, and it’s definitely the type of movie that just gets more tragic each time I watch it.

And those, in case you didn’t know, are my favourite kinds of movies.

Have any of you seen Crimson Peak? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Take care, and I’ll see you guys soon 🙂

This entry was posted in 100 movies in 2015, film talk, movie talk and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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