Thursday, June 2, 2016

Movie #363: Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is a Gothic romance/horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver.

Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) is the daughter of a wealthy New York industrialist and a budding author. She believes in ghosts - when she was little, her mother (who had just died of cholera) returned from the grave to tell her "beware of Crimson Peak." Now, as an adult, she meets the handsome and mysterious Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), who is in Buffalo attempting to drum up capital for his mining machine.

Edith's father (Beaver), who isn't necessarily opposed to seeing his daughter woo'd (though he might prefer their ophthalmologist friend McMichael, played by Hunnam), feels off about Sharpe, and has him investigated. Whatever he finds induces him to pay Sharpe and his prickly sister Lucille (Chastain) to leave town, but he is brutally murdered shortly thereafter. Thomas is there to comfort Edith, they are married, and he whisks her off to the ass end of England and Allerdale Hall, a decrepit mansion slowly sinking into the clay.

Of course, the place is haunted as shit, and of course, the sordid truth comes out - Lucille and Thomas have been incestuously in love for years, they murdered their mother and Thomas' three previous wives. But Thomas never loved any of those other women, and his affection for Edith becomes the real point of conflict (Thomas is, perhaps, 20% less crazy than Lucille).

This movie didn't do especially well, I don't think (I mean, I haven't run numbers or anything, but it kinda came and went), but like, it's a Gothic romance and it's trashy and bloody and sumptuous and just everything a Gothic romance should be. The costumes are amazing, the set is fucking incredible, and Hiddleston and Wasikowska (and holy shit Jessica Chastain) are incredible in their doomed relationships. Charlie Hunnam, too, works nicely in the role because he's not really the hero; a less director would have devoted more time to his character, but as it is he's established as a kind of amateur detective early on.

Like a lot of del Toro films, this one does a great job of making the central setting feel like a character (and since that's actually a running theme of the movie, that's good). If I have a complaint, it's that the CGI isn't quite as convincing as it could be (the ghosts are so red, which I recognize was a conscious choice, but it's a little jarring), but that's minor.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Little Women