Thursday, 15 October 2015

Film Review: "Crimson Peak" (2015).

"Ghosts are real, that much I know. I've seen them all my life..." These words should not be taken lightly in Crimson Peak. This gothic romance film directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins. In the aftermath of a family tragedy, the film follows an aspiring author who is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds...and remembers.

"... Basically what it is a really, really, almost classical gothic romance ghost story, but then it has two or three scenes that are really, really disturbing in a very, very modern way. Very, very disturbing, it's a proper R rating. And it's adult." This was the inspiration behind Crimson Peak when del Toro and co-writer Matthew Robbins wrote the original spec script back in 2006 after the release of Pan's Labyrinth. Del Toro called the film a "ghost story and gothic romance". Del Toro wanted the film to honor the "grand dames" of the haunted house genre, intended to make a large-scale horror film in the tradition of those he grew up watching, such as Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963), Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961) and The Shining (1980). British playwright Lucinda Coxon was enlisted to rewrite the script with del Toro in hopes of bringing it a "proper degree of perversity and intelligence", but is not credited. Del Toro and Robbins wrote 11 or 12 versions of the film before settling on the final draft. Del Toro was coming up with new scenes during production.

The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver. The cast gave intense and tour de force performances, especially the first three: Wasikowska giving an excellent portrait of a headstrong woman, Hiddleston giving a sympathetic performance as the mysterious and tormented outsider and Chastain giving the most intense performance of all and portrayed, oddly enough in my opinion, the most sympathetic character of all; regardless her psychotic and 'needy' nature. She gives a performance with an intensity that is frightening in itself.

As a ghost story and a gothic romance, Crimson Peak is one of the most highly regarded gothic romance films ever made. Davis Boulton's cinematography extraordinarily dexterous and visually exciting, and Tom Sander's production design of the "monstrous" house most decidedly the star of the film. The film is a cinematically elegant and literate work of art. This time del Toro does it all his way, does a splendid job and has a splendid cast to do it with. The visually rich beauty of the film enhances the dread by intensifying our sense of how feeble even the most luminous of surfaces can be in hiding the horrors beneath, which is appropriate for a film awash in gothic romantic subtext. However, the film is not completely a stroke of triumph for del Toro. With a story that has major shortcomings and is incomprehensible at points. On the other hand, as an example of directorial bravura and as a study of madness and the dark, ugly side of love. The film is like a near-miss auto accident: You don't know how scared you really were until you start shaking a few hours later.

Simon says Crimson Peak receives:

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