The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Crimson Peak (Universal Pictures)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins
There are so many things wrong with this film, I don’t know where to begin. I know ghost stories are Guillermo’s favorite genre but Crimson Peak is all ghost, no story. It is clumsy but pretty. So pretty in fact that it makes it seem even more clumsily put together. The set; This Haunted House from the title is far more important than the story or the acting or the back story or the directing. It is a beautifully put together full-sized doll house of horrors but it doesn’t belong in this horrible film. It is completely out-of-place.
Yet Crimson Peak is supposed to be the star, the theme, the location, the something… But instead of writing a house, Guillermo built one. And the movie he put inside it is terrible. Just awful. I’m going to spoil it now.
First of all, to spoil this movie is no big deal. There isn’t much of a mystery and the plot really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to the characters or to the film-makers apparently. Something about this brother and sister who murdered some people. Their mother and his wives because of the house or because they like fucking each other. I don’t know. It appears on-screen in the form of a story but it isn’t really a story.
It’s the ghost of a story.
Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain have been better. They are chewing the scenery from the first time we see them on-screen. The movie starts away from “the house” in America. The house is in Scotland or something I think. Again it doesn’t matter. There’s a dance. A waltz where a candle stays lit. Which is comical because all that twirling would put out a forest fire or at least a camp fire. And the sister’s hands. Something to do with her hands. And she’s creepy. Honestly who gives a fuck.
Then there is the hero but she has no character at all. She’s in love with some guy because he read her story and danced with her. But they go out of their way to present her as that era’s equivalent of the modern woman. But there’s no character there. She’s a writer or something. And she’s female. But that’s as far as they got. She is useless. She starts out as this American fire-brand but is quickly reduced to a victim by the death of her father. I don’t know. Whatever. Get to the house already.
So the house is stupid. The idea of the house is stupid. They live on top of a clay mine. Red clay. The house is falling apart. It has a hole in the roof and leaks red clay all over the place. The faucets. The walls. Really cool looking. Really stupid writing. But it is this gorgeous, I have to use the term Doll House because that’s how it seems, this gorgeous doll house. It’s like Guillermo del Toro built himself a little doll house (a big doll house), a graphically bleeding doll house and then had a ghost story play-date with his friends.
So the plot takes us up and down and around this obnoxiously pretty but annoyingly run-down house and there are ghosts and there are ghosts and there are ghosts. The brother and sister try to kill our hero; the character-less one. Remember her? Well she returns to being self-sufficient just as soon as the plot tells her it’s okay. Of course she had just been thrown off a balcony and landed on her back but she becomes super-human around the same time the sister becomes a ninja. They have a less than epic battle on the tiny sound-stage. It was a big sound-stage but the house takes up most of it and they’re supposed to be outside. So they basically walk around in a tiny circle. The sister kills the brother. Our hero kills the sister. Then I guess she dies anyway of the poison. Oh yeah they’ve been poisoning her the whole time. The end. It’s really stupid.
And now I’ve spoiled Crimson Peak for you. The movie is very bad and everybody dies at the end. Use the two hours I’ve saved you wisely, my friends.