CRIMSON PEAK (UK CERT: 15)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Music: Fernando Velázquez
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
If you describe Tom Hiddleston to someone who’s never seen him before, they’d probably never think of him as an incredibly sexy man.
Ratty hair, pale skin, looks like a 12 year old boy, often playing physically unimposing villains who regularly get beaten up by drunk scientists and WWII veterans on steroids, and burdened with the single stupidest headgear in all of comic book history, and no, Loki’s antlers do not translate to the big screen at all. On paper, Tom Hiddleston has all the sex appeal of a stamp collecting snail. And yet whenever he’s on screen, Marvin Gaye starts playing in the back of your mind, if you can hear it over the sounds of women screaming and fainting, and all you want is for Tom Hiddleston to brush your cheek with his supple, ivory fingers as his lips connect with your own, and you fall back, breathless, into his strong, comforting arms as he rests you on the bed and…
… excuse me, I just let my imagination run a bit wild there.
Crimson Peak does seem to share this infatuation with Mr Hiddleston. Despite the fact that Thomas Sharpe couldn’t be a more obvious villain and he does a ton of evil stuff, the entire script bends over backwards to absolve him of guilt for no reason other than “but he’s such a dreamboat, you guys!” A lot of the film plays out like a Japanese dating video game; there’s the part where you have to waltz with him and not have the candle go out, a point-and-click detective section as you walk around his house, and there’s a sex mini game where you get to see his bottom. Presumably you can play that with the Wii.
Not that the fetishization of Tom Hiddleston isn’t unwarranted; female sexuality is a recurring theme in Crimson Peak, as it is with most gothic horror. The story is basically if Jane Eyre was set in the same house as Amnesia: The Dark Descent. All of the tropes are recognisable from a mile off; there are bloodcurdling supernatural elements that have next-to-nothing to do with the actual plot, Mia Wasikowska’s Edith impressively mixes vulnerability with strength but takes an embarrassing amount of time to figure out that her obviously insane husband is insane, and there’s more than a little Mrs Danvers in Jessica Chastain’s performance as the creepy Lucille, Tom Hiddleston’s equally obviously insane sister.
The film does avoid the worst of modern Hollywood clichés but unfortunately it does so by diving headfirst into the worst Gothic Horror clichés. If you don’t see the ending coming, that’s just the universe telling you that you need to read more books.
Usually, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, because in films directed by Guillermo del Toro, the star of the show is usually del Toro himself. He knows his horror and there are few directors with a more unique and recognisable cinematic voice. A shame, then, that he seems more content with copying other films for this outing. It’s impressive that he can emulate other styles so well, from the Rebecca-esque middle portion of the film to the Shining inspired final confrontation, but he just doesn’t bring his a-game. Plus, for a horror film, Crimson Peak isn’t that scary. It’s startling as hell whenever the ghosts show up to a thunderous music sting, but the cheap jumpscares get annoying fast and its lacking that sense of dread and wonder I got from The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.
I’m sounding more negative than I am. If Crimson Peak was made by another director, it would probably be in their top five, and if you like gothic horror, then this film is definitely for you. If you’re expecting something on par with del Toro’s earlier work though… as nice as it is to see a film where female sexuality isn’t the cause of all the world’s ills and as enjoyable as the film is, you’d probably be better off waiting for Pacific Rim 2.
Though at least it gives us a very good view of Tom Hiddleston’s bottom, which incidentally is now my new screensaver. And if you’re reading this, Tom, why won’t you return any of my phone calls?
|Story/Plot||⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2|
|Acting/Vocal Performance||⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐|
|Special Effects/Cinematography||⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2|
|Costume/Design||⭐ ⭐ ⭐|
|Total||⭐ ⭐ ⭐|