I love just about everything I've seen that director Guillermo del Toro has done. I've been a fan of his Hellboy movies and I really enjoyed Pacific Rim but it's not his big summer blockbusters that I enjoy most. I love his slightly smaller films with my favorite being his 2006 movie, Pan's Labyrinth.
What I love specifically about Pan's Labyrinth was the artistic atmosphere of the film, the dark beauty. Guillermo has stated that he loves monsters and its evident by the amount of detail he puts into the designs of all his creatures he creates for his movies but he also shows off these creatures in ways that aren't expected. Often times, some of the most scary looking monsters can really be something not to be afraid of at all.
So with this high opinion I had of Guillermo del Toro, I was already excited when I first saw the trailer to Crimson Peak. Check it out below:
I was sold instantly! This looked like everything I enjoy about Guillermo del Toro's films all rolled into one. This could be his next Pan's Labyrinth, I thought.
Well, I finally got the chance to go see Crimson Peak over the weekend and here is my review for the film.
The Cast of Crimson Peak
First off, let me extend the utmost praise for the cast of Crimson Peak, every actor and actress chosen for this movie was perfectly cast and it felt like everyone on set really brought their A-game. But with great actors like the ones who inhabit Guillermo's newest directorial venture, we really couldn't expect anything less.
Right from the beginning of the movie's announcement, when I saw the trailer, I was drawn to Tom Hiddleston (probably cause he plays Loki in the Marvel's Cinematic Universe) and he did a great an amazing job playing the charming yet dodgy Thomas Sharpe. You can obviously tell from the trailer that there are many secrets that many of the characters seem to have you would be right to not completely trust Tom Hiddleston's character but at the same time, you can't help but feel that he might be more than what we see on the surface.
Mia Wasikowska did a great job as well playing the part of the lead character, Edith Cushing. You like her right from the beginning when you see that she is a strong, independent woman who has an unrelenting will to follow her dreams despite the demographics that play a role against her. When tragedy strikes her home life though, she seems to drop her passions as she is inevitably swept away in a romance with Thomas Sharpe, you want to feel excited for her but you can't help what terror awaits her at Crimson Peak.
Mia plays the role of the "beautiful butterfly" in the "dull gray world of moths" (it all makes sense if you watch the film) in a way that keeps your attention. As she traverses through the haunted mansion of Crimson Peak, you feel that she is being a little braver than the average person might be, but not completely stupid as you often see in other horror films. She's strong, smart, and a great lead for this movie.
Last up though, is Jessica Chastain's character, Lucille Sharpe, the older sister of Thomas Sharpe. She is by far, the actress in the movie who stood out the most to me out of the entire cast. No matter how untrustworthy Thomas Sharpe seems to be in the movie, the amount of mystery surrounding Lucille is agonizing. You aren't completely sure what's going on in her head at times, but you can just assume that all of her reactions are a form of disapproval. Chastain played her so well though that I barely recognized from her other roles I've seen her in.
She is truly very haunting and much more frightening to me, than any of the ghosts were in this film.
The supporting cast was great too and they all deserve the credit for the way they assisted the main cast progress through the story in a way that never felt campy or forced, mainly the actors: Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver.
The Story of Crimson Peak
This movie looks frightening right? There's no way a horror film called "Crimson Peak", which advertises some of the scariest looking ghosts you've seen on film isn't going to frighten you.
That's true for this movie, it scares you. Right from the beginning when Edith narrates the opening the movie, describing her first encounter with a ghost. It's a haunting sight to see visually, the context of the ghost is also unnerving when thinking about whose ghost it is, and you just help but try and straighten in your chair as a few goosebumps run up along your spine.
Guillermo del Toro does it right, he scares you right from the start then allows you to digest it and lets you think about what you just saw and just how it fits into the seemingly bright world of Edith Cushing's adult life filled with dreams and aspirations.
As we are introduced to the Sharpe siblings though, we know things are only going to take a turn for the worst and of course they do (why else did we go see this movie?). I liked how the Thomas Sharpe was just as much of a dreamer as Edith was too. This gave them a connection that would prove almost unbreakable. Her ghost stories fascinated him as he even puts in the film:
Where I come from, ghosts are not to be taken lightly
And his own independent goals of harvesting the red clay of his land and selling it to make a profit are admirable to Edith. It's only when Edith's father, Carter (Jim Beaver), doesn't trust Thomas Sharpe or have any faith in his proposed mechanics for harvesting said clay that everything takes a very dark turn.
I won't spoil anything but most of what is going on is pretty much predictable, there's no real secret of what's going on, especially at first, but it isn't about figuring out who is the face behind the horrific mysteries or how they're involved with the disgusting, rotted corpses of ghosts, but rather, it's about how the main character will react to her discoveries of the truth at the end of the film and more importantly, how she will get out of them.
A large portion of the movie is centered around the mystery of both Thomas and Lucille Sharpe. We are aware that they business they seem to be up to is not of the most savory nature. But whereas one of the siblings seems to be in charge, the other seems to be not entirely convinced that what they are doing is the "right thing".
And all at the center of it is Edith Cushing. How had she factored into everything? How did the Sharpes find her and why did Thomas choose her for his bride? Why was she seeing ghosts in the home of her husband? What secrets did her new family have? And of course, the biggest question of all: Why should she beware of Crimson Peak?
These relationships, these reactions, the wondering is what made this movie great for me. It's not a horror film that you are expecting. It's probably more accurate to describe it as dark-fantasy. Much like Pan's Labyrinth, we are shown that perhaps maybe not every monster or dark thing creeping in the dark recesses of the mansion are evil. Maybe true evil is skin deep and right in front of our noses.
Love makes monsters of us all.
This is one of the quotes from the movie that bodes true for every character in the film as everyone is forced into making decisions that they otherwise wouldn't have made without love.
If I could sum it all up in one sentence, I'd say: Guillermo del Toro's newest film is intriguing and hauntingly beautiful.