On Sweetest Day, the fiance and I decided to see Crimson Peak, which was a choice we made over seeing Goosebumps. It was the wrong choice.
Crimson Peak is the latest movie from visionary director Guillermo del Toro. At this point, he’s gotten fairly popular and built a reputation based on the creative talent he brings to the screen. My personal favorites are Pacific Rim, Hellboy II, and of course, Pan’s Labyrinth. The latter of the movies was slapped right on the movie posters to remind viewers that this is the same director that gave us disturbing scenes that blended fantasy with reality. Needless to say, I had my hopes set a little higher than they should have been. Spoilers beyond this point!
The movie begins with Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and her father morning the death of her mother. We soon find out that Edith has a sort of sixth sense for seeing ghosts, as her mother comes back to warn her of Crimson Peak [I can only assume that it was the movie itself she was referring to, and not the actual place. Seriously, get out of there Mia]. Jump forward 15 years or so, and we discover that Edith is a bright young woman who seeks to become a writer. Unlike other women, she’s not interested in marriage or courting; instead she’s focused on writing ghost stories. As such, she ignores advances from gentleman and childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam). This is until Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) enters the scene. An entrepreneur, he seeks to gain funding for his mining project from Edith’s father (Jim Beaver). Unfortunately for him, Edith’s father doesn’t share the same insight. When the two meet, Edith immediately falls for Tom. After a series of unfortunate events, Edith’s father passes away and she ends up marrying Tom and relocating to England where she lives in a rundown mansion with him and his sister, Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). This is where things start to get weird. Edith begins having bizarre visions of ghosts, all of which are trying to warn her of the dangers of the brother and sister duo. After a little digging, Edith discovers that Tom has had three previous marriages, all of which ended suspiciously. You know, like with them dying. After a little more digging, Edith finds out that Tom and his sister killed their parents and have an incestual relationship. They find out and everything turns into an all out creeping battle that ends with Edith killing Lucille.
What disappoints me about this film is that it had a chance to be original, to be different, and it chose not to. The plot is overused and tiresome, if not boring altogether at this point. It acts like there will be some sort of big reveal, and I guess there is, but it’s so predictable that even a complete idiot could have guessed it halfway through. It even uses that cliche, “let’s start at the end scene and then show the events leading up to it” that god old 50 years ago. We get it, you saw Sunset Boulevard.
The ghosts are also unoriginal and absolutely not the best del Toro has created. Sure, they look good… but they’re lacking that special touch that makes them memorable or stand out. I distinctly remember the fawn and “creepy skin bag with eyes him his hands” guy from Pan’s Labyrinth, along with tooth fairies and Death in Hellboy II. I’ll remember Crimson Peak ghosts as, “Oh yeah, those things like kind of looked like Titans.”
The real nail in the coffin for me is how great the cast is, coupled with beautiful Gothic Victorian costumes and sets that ooze with an eerie vibe. Crimson Peak is filled with some fairly notable A-list actors, and they feel wasted. They give excellent performances, but they’re not working with much.
Overall, it isn’t a terrible film; it just isn’t a good one. It’s a story you’ve heard before, done in a way you’ve all seen before, filled with wasted talent, costumes and sets. It amounts to a simple shoulder shrug, at best. It’s that movie you remember seeing previews for, but never got around to seeing it, and it’s a Friday night and you’re bored at home with nothing else to watch, so you give it a go because it’s free on cable.