Hey guys, let me be perfectly clear about something. There is no genre that I particularly love. If you hold a gun to my head and force me to pick one, I would most probably pick biopic – God bless THE SOCIAL FUCKING NETWORK! The same can be said about me hating a genre. However, if there is one genre that does not cease to piss the shit out of me over and over and over and over again, it is horror! I can’t even recall five horror movies that are really good, over the past ten years. The Conjuring is decent, The Babadook is great, but that’s about it.
Everything else pissed me off to some degree. Anabelle? GARBAGE! And Ouija?? WTF is Ouija? WTF kinda movie is that? Insidious 50, Paranomal Activity 10,000? Seriously, I would buy the Blu-rays of these movies just to puke on it, clean it, puke on it again, buy a flight ticket to Indonesia and toss these pieces of trash into a volcano. Now, don’t go crying “Dash, you do not understand the complex artistic value of Ouija,” because these movies aren’t art – it is merely studios making a mockery out of the audience. You see, studios love making these sorry excuses of movies because it’s very cheap, very easy to make and takes close to zero effort. The narrative is bullshit, filled with jump-scares and false jump-scares, absolutely horrible music, terrible acting and more jump-scares.
Having said that, CRIMSON PEAK IS AWESOME! YES! YES! YES! Guillermo Del Toro is a visual genius! This is quite easily the best looking horror movie, ever. The set designs are great, the movie is shot perfectly and the usage of soundtrack is brilliant. Every shot in this movie has meaning – it shows something. There are some clever usage of cinematography to build suspense. You know what’s great? There are no shaky cams! You actually get to witness and comprehend the unfolding events, without having to strain your eyes. Most modern horror movies constantly use shaky cams. Why? Is it supposed to make the movie scarier? No, it does not. It’s just extremely annoying. Crimson Peak has none of that bullshit. You know what’s greater than no shaky cams? No jump-scares! Seriously, this movie has close to no jump-scares accompanied by ugly music. I do remember a couple of scenes where there are jump-scares but it served a purpose. It wasn’t one of those false jump-scares where you think it’s gonna be a ghost/monster but it ends up being the main character’s fuck buddy hiding behind the door.
Crimson Peak can be seen as slightly over the top, but it works. Just like how Tarantino’s movies are over the top in a satirical sense, Del Toro creates these outlandish, almost mystical world. *Pause* Okay, I’m in no way saying that Del Toro is on the same level as Tarantino, because he’s not. Tarantino is GREAT, Del Toro is very good. *Resume* But these figments of Del Toro’s imagination do not come off as forceful. It works. Just like how the insanity of the Mad Max world works and how all the over exaggerated characters in Tarantino’s movies work. In Crimson Peak, the house literally bleeds red clay and when a character removes her hairpin, you hear the sound of a sword being removed from its sheath. Is it over the top? Yes. But it’s beautiful! And Crimson Peak is an exceptionally beautiful movie.
Movies like Ouija and Anabelle do not have a plot. It’s as if the directors just go “Okay, we’re gonna do a bunch of random shit that would get the audience to jump out of their seats.” Crimson Peak has an actual storyline with actual fleshed out characters. I’m not saying the storyline is great, but it is decent and one I could actually invest myself and my emotions in. Edith Cushing falls in love with Thomas Sharpe. Edith moves into this mansion with Thomas and his sister Lucille. Then shit happens. Crimson Peak is not in a rush to scare its audiences but takes its time to slowly introduce the characters and build towards the thrill. Early on in the movie, while trying to get her book published, Edith tells the publisher, “It isn’t a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts.” This is a clever bit of foreshadowing, because Crimson Peak is exactly that. It isn’t about ghosts! It is still horror, but the horror in this movie isn’t about ghosts that are possessing children or ghosts that kills people because of a stupid boardgame. The horror in Crimson Peak is on a human level – the distasteful sick acts a human can commit. And that is scarier than any stupid ghost pouncing in front of the screen randomly.
How often do horror movies come with characters? I’m not talking about characters whose only characterizations are their given roles, aka mom, son, dad, ex-girlfriend, etc. I’m talking about characters whom we know everything about – their purpose, their motives, their interests. Crimson Peak has these fleshed out characters whom we actually understand, especially the supporting characters, Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Thomas is complex from the get go. We don’t really know if he’s good or bad, we don’t really know how he’s feeling – is he in love or is he faking it? Tom Hiddleston plays this character to perfection. Jessica Chastain’s Lucille is easily my favourite character. Lucille has a resting bitch face and I hated her even before she does anything. I don’t wanna mention too much about Lucille as it would most probably be a spoiler of some sort. But, I can say this: Jessica Chastain acted in a couple of big movies recently – Interstellar and The Martian. She was okaaay in Interstellar but nothing too memorable, besides the horribly out of place “Eureka!”. Her performance in The Martian is commendable, but it was a very small role as The Martian is mostly the Matt Damon show. Here, she gets the chance to really perform and boy she does not disappoint! She is brilliant on so many levels and every time she appears on screen, I just felt this weird eeriness creeping up on me. I loved hating Lucille and that’s the testament to Jessica Chastain’s performance. Damn, there are so many things I’d love to say about Lucille but I think it’s best if you guys experienced it for yourself.
Sadly, I can’t really say the same for the lead, Mia Wasikowska, and her character Edith. Wasikowska isn’t a horrible actor by any means and Edith isn’t really a horrible character, but is isn’t very good either. There is no character arc at all. The introduction of her character is well done, but throughout the entirety of the movie, I didn’t learn anything new about her, which is a shame because she’s the main character. I didn’t feel for Edith because of Edith, I felt for Edith because Hiddleston’s Thomas and Chastain’s Lucille is bloody brilliant.
Speaking of a less than stellar lead character, I do have a couple of other issues with Crimson Peak. For starters, I feel that certain parts of this movie should have been explored in more detail. The brother-sister relationship between Thomas and Lucille is good as it is, but it could have been GREAT with a little more exploration. Again, I can’t really say much because whatever I say, can be considered a spoiler, and this is a movie best watched without knowing much. The pacing though, is Crimson Peak’s most glaring problem. The first act of the movie is very good. It introduces us to Guillermo Del Toro’s world and all these interesting characters. The second act however, is slightly below average with nothing much happening at all. The third act is fantastic and I was at the edge of my seat throughout. It’s as if Del Toro completely ran out of ideas for his second act and figured he’ll just kill time with the main character sleeping then suddenly waking up at night, *INSERT GHOSTS*, sleeping then suddenly waking up, *INSERT GHOSTS*, sleeping… okay, you get the drill. The movie would have been so much better if the second act is 15 minutes shorter and the third act is 15 minutes longer. Because the third act is engaging, it’s intense! Be that as it may, the movie is still bloody good overall.
The problem with modern day audiences is that the majority has forgot the true meaning of a horror movie. A horror movie isn’t about an abundance of shitty jump-scares and horrible music for the purpose of shocking the audience. There is a difference between SHOCKING and SCARY. The Babadook and The Sixth Sense, these are brilliant horror movies! And while Crimson Peak is nowhere near as brilliant as Babadook and Sixth Sense, it at least moves in the right direction.
My only advice is to go in with an open mind. Don’t walk in expecting to be shocked shitless by face value jump-scares. Instead, be ready to be told a proper scary story. A story that makes you think. Because that’s exactly what Crimson Peak is, a beautifully told, compelling story.