Beware of… – Crimson Peak (2015)

Period horror.  So this is about a female author (Mia Wasikowska) in New York around the turn of the 20th century.  After a family tragedy, she is wooed by a stranger (Tom Hiddleston) into marriage, and she travels back to live with him and his sister (Jessica Chastain) at their dilapidated estate in the middle of nowhere.  The house has a bit of a mind of its own, as it is haunted by a number of different entities.  I will always give Guillermo del Toro the benefit of the doubt; even when he doesn’t succeed in full, the effort is always there, and you know that he is at the very least going to show you some cool creature designs.  I would be okay with him stepping away from genre movies, because surprisingly, I feel that Crimson Peak works much better as a period piece than it does a horror movie.

1And being the genre junkie that I am, this was not something that I expected to be feeling.

Del Toro always has great production designs, and he goes all out here.  There is an attention that is paid to detail, and when you break it down, there aren’t all that many horror movies that take place in a dated setting such as this one.  There’s The Woman in Black which I enjoyed from a campy point of view, and I think that’s about it, unless you consider the painfully boring Jane Eyre to be horror.  When I say that I like this better as a period piece I meant that I was more into the drama of the story.  The costumes and decor are firing on all cylinders, and it was the horror elements that I was more disappointed with.  There are lots of jump scares that feel lazy, and all of the build up and tenseness are established almost entirely by an overly loud score spikes and swells, which is something that bothers me in bad horror.  If you’re going to scare me, go ahead and scare me, don’t just throw a cat into the orchestra pit.

2Lot of standard tropes to be found here.

The thing that really kept me going with this is Tom Hiddleston; you can tell that he is really having fun in this part, and this scenery-chewing untrustworthy role has been par for the course for him ever since he got cast as Loki in Thor.  There are cool visuals, but they work against the story; this girl has no reason not to run, and there are so many red flags all over the place, it never makes logical sense for her to stay in this house for more than about fifteen minutes.  I also think this movie shows its hand far too early, and once it does, you know exactly how it is going to play out for the remaining 50 minutes.  Despite Hiddleston and the intriguing visuals, the best I can give this is a mixed rating.

Crimson Peak (2015) ***

– Critic for Hire

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