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crimson-peak-poster

“Ghosts are real. This much I know…”

“Lavish Gothic masterpiece.” Is clearly what Guillermo del Toro had in mind with Crimson Peak.

“Horrific gaudy mess.” Is what he achieved.

Stylistically Crimson Peak looks like Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula took a shit on Wuthering Heights and shoe-horned in *shudders* Americans.

Can I summon the energy to recount the plot? After the violent death of her father American heiress goes to live with creepy new husband and his equally creepy sister in their ancestral home, a ridiculously dilapidated house out in the middle of the Yorkshire moors.

Then there’s all the silly stuff. The brother and sister are lovers and Sir Thomas has been getting hitched to wealthy heiresses and then his sister has been bumping them off so that they can have their money. To what end? Well, that’s a bit less clear. There’s some nonsense about them needing money to fund Thomas’ inventions so he can mine his red mud farm, make a fortune and fix-up Crimson Peak. The incestuous brats couldn’t possibly live anywhere else – although if they lived virtually anywhere else, no one would even know they were brother and sister.

Then there’s the really bat shit stupid nonsense. There are ghosts in Crimson Peak. But I really don’t know why. Edith’s dead mum turns up a couple of times at the start of the movie, looking like an emaciated black skeleton with half of its skull missing and a tin of black paint tipped over her. I can only assume that Edith’s mum really hated her daughter. What other reason could there be for her turning up looking like the emaciated bride of swamp thing? If she was trying to give her daughter a heart attack, she was going about it the right way.

And what was the purpose of her sudden visits? Apparently to warn Edith not to go to Crimson Peak. But her actions pretty much seal the deal for Thomas and Lucille, as had the daft dead bitch just left well alone, Edith would never have gone to the party that leads to her love affair with Thomas.

The red ghost turns up at Crimson Peak, looking very much like Edith’s mum, but bright red. I’m a bit confused with regards to the number of ghosts at Crimson Peak. One is certainly mother to the incestuous duo, who likes to sit about in the bath with an axe through her cranium. I think one of Thomas’ brides, looking remarkably similar to ghost number one, is also shrieking and clawing her way around the stinking, dilapidated pile. I can’t be sure because I didn’t care enough to pay attention and there really didn’t seem to be any point to the inclusion of the ghosts in this story as they are totally incident to the plot. Yes – just let me repeat that. In this GHOST STORY the GHOSTS are totally INCIDENTAL to the entire plot.

These ghosts don’t contribute anything. They just scream a lot and point at things. I suppose they are trying to warn Edith or helping her to uncover their murders, but why they have to cause her a coronary every time they appear, I don’t know. Also why they have to look like an abomination from Dead Space rather than a spectre in a Gothic horror movie – I HAVE NO IDEA.

The design of the ghosts is impressive looking – but they don’t look like ghosts. They look ridiculously over the top. Especially considering the absolute minimal impact they have on the plot. I think del Toro got too wrapped up in designing their appearance and completely forgot that they should have characters, have some impact on the plot, or at least some relevance to the action of the movie. There is nothing that the ghosts reveal which Edith couldn’t have figured out on her own. They are all style and no substance and the style is confusing.

Everything about Crimson Peak screams overkill – but the set design especially so. I can’t help but think that the designers were primarily inspired by Vampire Land at Chessington World of Adventures. The House itself is ridiculous – a huge portion of the roof has collapsed, artistically allowing leaves to shower down from the rafters. Which is odd – because shots from outside the house suggest the nearest tree is several miles away. And don’t forget the ketchup factory…sorry red clay mine underneath the house.

And then there’s the cast.

First of all there’s Mia Wasikowska as Edith. Are we supposed to like Edith? I really couldn’t tell. She veers from headstrong, independent woman, to simpering, idiotic moron. Sometimes in the same scene. None of this is particularly impressive characterisation, is it? I personally thought she was an irritating, spoilt brat. And we’re supposed to believe that the murderous Sir Thomas genuinely falls in love with this bland dishcloth? Wasikowska utterly fails to achieve on-screen chemistry with Tom Hiddlestone and that is just utterly mind boggling.

I love Tom Hiddlestone. I really do. But I resent this blatant attempt to cash in on his Loki persona. Yes – he’s the king of playing the charismatic bad guy with the vulnerable streak that all the girls fall in love with. But hard as they might try to play that card here – the character in this movie is far, FAR from Loki. He is, quite simply, a massive drip. He’s happy to flounce all over Europe helping his sister murder his brides – but he’s too much of a wimp to do it himself. The film tries to demonise Lucille as the driving force behind their plan and Thomas as the villain with a heart, who wants to redeem himself and truly loves Edith. I call bullshit. Thomas is an amoral shit head. He feels no guilt over the women he tricked into falling in love with him, just for their money and just so his sister can murder them.

Jessica Chastain is pretty good as Lucille – but I don’t think spending the entire movie with a face of cold indifference and the off surge of murderous rage is much of a stretch. I spent a lot of time feeling exactly the same way.

Also – could someone please shoot the costume designer. Mia Wasikowska is small. Really teeny. So dressing her in Gothic puff ball gowns was a mistake. She spent the entire movie looking as though she were being devoured from the shoulders down by two carnivorous (yet exquisitely embroidered) marshmallows. Lets not forget the crimpelene blouses and Dracula-esque nightshirts, complete with foot hight hilarious ruffs and frilly sleeves. I don’t think the costume department were too keen on Edith either, as they seemed determined to dress her like a dick.

And what the hell were the hair and make-up people doing? They didn’t seem to be able to decide what colour Edith’s hair was supposed to be, for one thing – or what length it should be. When it was up it was a hideous shade of orange. When it was down it was yellow. It was also frequently low-lighted with shades of bird shit. And even the unnervingly gorgeous Mr Hiddlestone looked like he’d been slapped with half a pound of brylcreem and then weed-whacked during several scenes.

Why – you may ask – was I paying so much attention to hair and wardrobe? Well because there really wasn’t much else to focus on. The fashion and set design is rammed down your throat very insistently, I think they were perhaps hoping we wouldn’t notice what an utter fucking mess the rest of the film was.

Guillermo – what the fuck? I can’t think of anything good to say about this movie. What were you thinking? Please – stop getting involved with English language horror movies. It does not end well.

 

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