Tuesday, February 23, 2016

DVD of the Week: Crimson Peak

So I was planning on writing up "Spy" last week in a quiet moment between bouts of half-term childcare, but instead I felt it better to come down with a stinking headcold, and yeah, that didn't happen. So I'll try and do that later this week, and this time talk about this saturdays viewing, the Guillermo del Toro helmed Crimson Peak. Expectations were high, because it's del Toro, and he's the sort of director that makes consistantly fascinating film with massive attention to detail, that then not enough people go on to watch. This time we are promised a period-set ghost story, with all the trappings. 

Starting out in the bright modernity (well, 1887 modern) of upstate New York, it tells the story of Edith (Mia Wasikowska), who falls into the orbit of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), and after the untimely murder of her father agrees to marry him, decamping to the cold wastes of England to live in his dilapidated mansion with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Ghosts of the past, both literal and metaphorical, start to stalk Edith through it's halls, and it all gets extremely melodramatic as things come to a head. 

Crimson Peak tips its hand to the sort of film it is, when Edith explains that the book she is writing is not so much a ghost story, but story that contains ghosts. For all it's occasional creeps and scares, this isn't a horror movie; it's villians are human, their motivations mundane. As much as Pacific Rim before it, this is a fully engaged genre piece, without irony or post-modernist revisionism, a film about love, sex and death, right to it's core. It draws on a barrage of influences along the way, part Hound of the Baskervilles, part Fall of the House of Usher, and whislt that has some familiarity, it's execution is faultless. 

But the huge takeaway from Crimson Peak is how it looks. It is, frankly, jaw droppingly fantastic in it's use of colour throughout, from the gentle hues of the American locations to the shadow-flecked hallways in England and the constant red motifs as the Red Clay undernearth the Hall seeps into everything, leaving deep stains, or crawling slowly up the walls, or seeping through virgin snow. del Toro has always been an exceptional visual director and Crimson Peak is an exemplary showcase for that talent. 

I can see some audiences being slightly fazed at this film, to be honest. As I said, it's a committed genre piece in a way you don't see very often, and I always willing to give that a go, especially for a genre I quite like. It's beats and mannerisms may not be for everyone. But it is for me, the sort of story I love seeing told, being told in the best way possible. Totally loved it, and if you've any tolerance for the Gothic, then I expect you will too.