Monday, October 19, 2015

Crimson Peak Review: Dark Elements Lead to a Dynamic Ghost Story

It has been a long time since I have seen an old fashion ghost story. True there have been plenty of movies over the years that have feature ghost and hauntings, but many have followed a similar concept to the point where it has become old-hat. So in this time of need, who should we call to give us a ghostly tale? How about acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro? The man behind movies like Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim comes to the world of horror with the new film Crimson Peak. With its haunting advertisement and its genuine creepiness, Crimson Peak looked to be a fitting film for the Halloween Season. So the question is did Crimson Peak haunt moviegoers or is this ghost story just a regular horror flick.

Crimson Peak centers on author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska). Things in Edith's life change when she meets the charming Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston); the mysterious man that she soon marries. The newlyweds head to Thomas' manor where the two plan to live along with Thomas's sister: Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain).  However Edith begins to notice strange happenings in the manor as the young woman is haunted by ghosts . Edith soon realizes that her husband, and his sister, have a dark secret.

The story to Crimson Peak played out unexpectedly. The plot behind this ghostly tale was less about the haunting and more about mystery behind Allerdale Hall. Though this direction was a bit disconcerting, it did not make the plot any less compelling. The mystery  drives the story and its progression managed to keep me engaged. While the mystery is a major factor to the story's direction, this is not to say that the horror elements to Crimson Peak were forgotten. When it came down to it, the plot to this film felt very much like a old fashion ghost story; and given the film's concept: that feeling was quite fitting.
Great characters can be hard to come by in a horror film. Thankfully this was not the case for the cast of Crimson Peak as the main characters were quite thorough. Mia Wasikowska had a solid performance as Edith. While she could have been stronger in certain areas, I felt that Edith was a fairly strong lead. Tom Hiddleston showed off his charm as Thomas Sharpe. The role definitely played to Hiddleston's strengths, but that did not make Sir Thomas any less of an intriguing character. If there was a show stealer in this horror film it had to be Jessica Chastain as Lucille. Lucille's intentions were obvious but that did not stop Chastain's performance from being malicious and creepy; not to mention engaging. If there was a weak link to the cast, then it was Charlie Hunnam as Alan McMichael. Hunnam by no means had a bad performance, but there was not much to the character other then Alan being protective of Edith. Rounding the cast out was the supporting role from Jim Beaver as Edith's father: Carter Cushing. Beaver's role was brief but I felt he had a distinct performance as Edith's father.

Seeing that Crimson Peak is a horror film, one should expect some scares. The scare tactics behind this movie were not done in the common fashion. While the movie has its share of jump scares, it relied more on its twisted atmosphere to get its sense of horror across. This direction was refreshing as it not only fit the context of the film, but also seemed to pay tribute to horror tales of old.Helping with the creepy tone was the movie's cinematography. The look behind this film was fantastic as the elements such as lighting and design brought out the movie's Gothic atmosphere. The effects to the film were equally impressive; particular in the development of the ghosts. Another highlight was the score by Fernando Velazquez. Though it may not have been the most creepiest score that I have heard from a horror film, the music was still fitting for the movie by capturing the time and tone to Crimson Peak. In the end, the direction behind this film felt like a mesh of styles, and the blend definitely made an impression.

Crimson Peak is not your regular horror film. The film does not rely on jump scares nor does the supernatural element drive the movie's concept. Yet even with its misdirection, I found this ghostly tale to be impressive. The movie's  blend of supernatural horror and psychological thriller created an atmosphere that was both old fashion and unique. Along with its compelling plot and strong cast, Crimson Peak captured the proper idea of telling a ghost story; and while it may not have been game changing, this spooky tale is one that the horror genre surely needed.

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