Crimson Peak

Well, he certainly had a nice streak going. But I’ve finally watched a Guillermo del Toro film that I can’t recommend. I just don’t like “Crimson Peak”. And I was so excited for it, when it opened around the time of my birthday, in October of last year. I will admit this–I bet it looks smashing in IMAX 3D. However, I skipped it in theaters after some tepid notices. Seems my instincts were correct. Mr. del Toro has lost his mojo. His forward momentum has stalled. Is it okay if I blame Peter Jackson, and that wasted half decade skirting the execrable “The Hobbit”? Sorry, that’s my story, whether you like it, or not.

The ghost of her mother, warns young Edith Cushing (Sofia Wells as a youth, then Mia Wasikowska as a young adult) to “beware of Crimson Peak”. I’ll say. That happens in 1887 New York State. Years later, Edith is an author being wooed by the English baronet Thomas Sharpe (a perfectly oily Tom Hiddleston), who is looking for investors for a clay-mining project. Quickly becoming romantically attached, they intend to get married and move to his estate in England. Disapproving, based on some unsavory details he’s unearthed about Mr. Sharpe, Edith’s father Carter Cushing (a fine Jim Beaver) is found mysteriously and brutally murdered, not long after Sharpe breaks off the engagement to Edith. Rushing to her side, Thomas reconsiders and does wed Ms. Cushing. Moving overseas, along with Sharpe’s enigmatic sister, Lucille (an over-the-top, scenery-chewing, Jessica Chastain), Edith is confronted by harsh realities, and haunting activity, at the unexpectedly dilapidated Sharpe mansion–and the happenings are growing increasingly malevolent. And guess what the vast Sharpe property is called…

Mr. del Toro has a healthy respect for the horror genre, and it pains me to pan him. But the writing was on the wall with his last feature, the gigantic “Pacific Rim”. That was a fun movie, greatly enhanced by expensive special effects, and a high production budget–and the IMAX 3D version was a blast. But narrative wise it was skimpy. And for “Crimson Peak”, his story (co-written with Matthew Robbins) is just too convoluted. It quickly loses the fun factor. The darn thing is even boring, at times. “Crimson Peak” is fantastic looking–but it should have focused on some real emotion, it is too damn obvious, and it remains far too busy to maintain its focus. A major disappointment, from a wayward mega-talent.

Grade:  C-


2 comments on “Crimson Peak

  1. I thought exactly the same as you, when I saw it. Images from it stick in my head. I may try to watch it again as it got under my skin. But I do agree that it fails, for all the reasons in your great review. But it does look very lovely.

  2. Thanks so much, Greer. It killed me to pan it…I’m such a huge fan of the director. I intend to give it another look too, but I don’t expect to erase my initial disappointment.


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