Guillermo del Toro finally returned to his more supernatural/creepy roots with "Crimson peak". A film that is so beautiful that even images of death can have a poetic flair in their depictions.
|Jessica Chastain is fantastic in a fearless performance as the icy? Lucille|
Direction: Guillermo del Toro is this rare breed of director that actually cares about his stories and his characters. Most importantly, he cares deeply about the visual look and the feel of each of his movies. "Crimson Peak" particularly sees him at his finest (and most dark if I might add) hour with each frame oozing his love for the material and showcasing a brilliant palette of gothic colours. He certainly feels more confident that he was in the (very) big budget attempt of "Pacific Rim". Like Tarantino, del Toro creates movies for himself not for the audience sharing his experiences regarding scary but not terrifying ghosts and treacherous humans. The slow and methodological depiction of tragic circumstances are the stones that set the avalanche of events where no matter how menacing or creepy monsters and other fictional creature can be, they should receive mercy due to their nature while holding no candle against the human instinct.
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen in his second collaboration with del Toro (after the ill-fated "Mimic") has managed to craft a majestic canvas of white, black and vivid red colours, each one complementing the other. His other works include the brilliant "Silent hill" and the fantastic "Brotherhood of the wolves", hence in "Crimson peak" he feels right at home. The exterior and the interior shots of the Sharp's mansion are spectacular with an old school feeling aided by the existence of practical sets and darkly lighted corridors. A thing of beauty and I expect this to be nominated this year.
Ghosts: In a similar fashion to "Devil's backbone", the ghouls here are expertly introduced and staged via blink and you will miss moments that may require multiple viewings. Mostly integrated in the background with bizarre? movements, del Toro is showcasing his love letter to abysmal monster design with a ghost twist making them actually pretty rather than ugly. This is a man that can make the most horrific monster into a mesmerizing mess.
|Mia Wasikowska is improving with film after film|
Plot: "Crimson Peak" does not reinvent the wheel and those who have seen a gazillion horror movies may find themselves into probably familiar if slightly uncertain, territory. Sure they are ghosts but then there are also humans so the question is who is posing the biggest threat? The film beautifully balances this out culminating into rather feisty climax (unexpectedly) with some minor twists and turns. However, this does not feel forced or a "tricked ya!" approach. It is rather a slow-burn mystery that starts as a romantic tale and then devolves into a more sinister genre. Do not expect a hyper and ultra slick supernatural thriller but instead embrace the more poetic feel of gothic literature being recreated on the big screen for your pleasure although for some it could feel that is drags halfway through and slightly at the beginning until we get the wheel turning. It certainly feels a gamble by a big studio to greenlight such a film with this class of cast. Well played Universal.
Cast: Although the cast is relatively small - Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain - they all deliver memorable performances with only Hunnam getting lost in the rather small screentime that he has been assigned with. On the other hand, Tom Hiddleston is truly a British gent and his classical training can be seen delivering his lines with such panache making him a believable character, torn between the love of his sister and the love of his wife. Mia Wasikowska gives another strong performance after "Tracks" and here she is actually pretty spot on enabling the viewer to care for her situation without consider her an annoying damsel in distress. However, the awards of this season should go to Jessica Chastain who totally owns the role as the icy Lucille. With a calm-before-the-storm face, Lucille is one of these characters that the moment they are introduced, you get the oh DEAR feeling. Without getting into spoilery details, she delivers a fearless performance that manages to capture perfectly a variety of emotions with just the simple movement of spoon feeding. Her nomination in "Zero dark thirty" was not a mistake and I will be impressed if she will be ignored this year.
|Everyone's favorite Loki in the gothic Crimson Peak|
Costume design: Definitely in the Oscars of 2016, I am expecting "Crimson Peak" to pick some nominations regarding the flawlessly costume design. Vibrant colours, elaborate dresses and sharp suits are nicely integrated in the recreation of that era, indicating that del Toro is still one of the greatest auteurs in modern cinema.
and finally the production design: Del Toro here has accomplished a triumph of production design with the depiction of "Crimson Peak" on the big screen, In one of these rare exceptions where directors are using practical sets, del Toro brings them through an even bigger perspective adding a tone of visual treats and details that a second and third viewing is an absolute must. "Crimson peak" feels almost a more gothic and appropriately spooky version of the house shown in the "Haunting" remake. Endless corridors, an elevator in the middle of the house, spikes, chandeliers, weirdly put up staircases, a symmetrical cellar, a roof hole allowing the snow to fall inside; every little detail is clearly revealing that this is not your typical house but rather a living entity that breathes and bleeds (literally). The addition of the red clay that makes the ground look like it is bloodbathing arena is an interesting visual, worthy of the admission price alone.
+ the production design is woa!
+ ghost design
+ Jessica Chastain owns the role
+ great cast
+ creepy and atmospheric
+ solid scares
+ strong violence!
- a bit long
- Charlie Hunnam is underused
- not very surprisingly mystery but effective nontheless