Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crimson Peak

How do you choose between new Del Toro and new Spielberg movies? Well, if you've got MoviePass, you see one plays at 7:30pm, one at 8pm, and that's how you roll with the 24-hour rule.

Good crowd, although I was kind of surprised just how enthusiastic some of the folks around me were for a movie that I just sort of liked. It looks beautiful, but I don't know that it was actually that romantic. But, hey, if it hits people the right way, good for them.

One thing I wondered, both during and after the film, was whether it was in the wrong aspect ratio - I'm pretty sure the theater ran it in 2.35:1, although the IMDB lists it as 1.85:1 and the whole thing seems to be constructed fairly vertically. There was a scene where half of Tom Hiddleston's face got cut off, too. Not crippling, but odd.

Crimson Peak

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 16 October 2015 in Somerville Theatre #1 (first-run, DCP)

About a week ago, I saw a horror movie with a much smaller budget than Crimson Peak that was very clearly built around the house where the action occurs, and I propose that the same can be said for this one. Sure, Guillermo Del Toro and his crew had to build the place he saw in his imagination, but this is a movie about taking the audience into Allerdale Hall, with everything else good enough to make the trip there a bit more than gawking at an astounding setting.

Things start elsewhere, in Buffalo, NY, where Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) informs the audience that she has always known there were ghosts; when she was ten, the spirit of her recently-deceased mother warned her not to go to Crimson Peak. Now, at the turn of the twentieth century, she is working on her first book, a "story with a ghost" that betrays her lack of interest in romance, despite the obvious torch being carried by her friend Alan (Charlie Hunnam), a young doctor. It is Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English baronet in town to find funding for an excavation device to re-open the clay mines on his estate, who catches her eye, although her father (Jim Beaver) disapproves. Nevertheless, Edith and Thomas are soon married, returning to Cumberland, England with Thomas's sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).

It takes an unusually long time, by Del Toro standards, to get to this haunted house: For much of his career, at least from Mimic to Pacific Rim, he's tended to do relatively little set-up before getting to the good stuff. Here, he spends a fair amount of time in Buffalo setting up a situation for Edith that does not seem to require such care. Del Toro and co-writer Matthew Robbins stretch out the Gothic Romance tropes that they follow almost slavishly; there's not a lot that's unpredictable but care is take to make sure the audience can follow by repeating and elongating points. On top of that, they let some of the air out early, both with an unnecessary flash-forward at the start and the way that ghosts being real is made a given early on, although the point is made about Edith's novel being a story with a ghost rather thana ghost story that any thrills which may come from that are dulled.

Full review on EFC.

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