CRIMSON PEAK is not a Italian horror film. It's just that Guillermo Del Toro's use of color reminded me a lot of Bava's work. Funny, when I discovered Italian horror I hated it. Back then I just didn't "get it" and sometimes I still don't, but lately I have developed a strong appreciation for it. Thanks in large part to a friend of mine who is going through a similar revival.
CRIMSON PEAK is also not a horror movie. Which is surprisingly turning off a lot of theater goers. Which I can understand the frustration. Apparently the trailers for the film we're misleading. Audiences were wanting horror when instead they got Gothic romance.
So what's the deal? Were there not enough jump scares? A character opens up the film by saying this isn't a ghost story but rather a story with ghosts in it. But that was at the very beginning of the movie, you don't need to pay attention to that. You were probably on your smartphone ordering your McDonald's Double Cheeseburger. Because you like the same old crap every single time!
Okay, rant over.
While not scary, the Gothic romance genre is atmospheric and can be a lot of the times spooky. Appropriate for certain horror movie marathons/movie nights. CRIMSON PEAK is a film where you let the atmosphere wash over you. For me, following the plot was secondary and my viewing experience was more visual.
The plot of CRIMSON PEAK does seem pretty basic. In the aftermath of a family tragedy, a young woman's heart is is stolen by a seductive stranger. Edith Cushing is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood red clay, a place that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak. Beware of Crimson Peak!
Mia Wasikowska plays Edith, an aspiring author who falls in love with Thomas Sharpe, the seductive aristocrat and inventor. The two of them fall in love but Edith's father disapproves. After his untimely death they get married and shack up Allerdale Hall where Thomas and his sister Lucille live.
Strange things begin to happen and Edith starts seeing ghosts. And the mystery of the Sharpe's and Crimson Peak start to unravel.
I truly believe CRIMSON PEAK is Guillermo Del Toro's homage to Hammer films, Mario Bava, and Alfred Hitchcock. With ghosts being part of the story, it's hard not to think about the film Rebecca. But the Hitchcock film I kept thinking of during some key suspensful moments was NOTORIOUS.
All of the cast did a great job. Jessica Chastain who played Lucille was my favorite performance in the film. From the get go you know this lady is up to no good, and Chastain did a wonderful job of letting her madness come to a rolling boil.
As I was watching the film on IMAX I knew the film was performing poorly at the box office. There were less than 10 people in the showing I attended. So this thing may only be in theaters another week? So as I was watching the film thinking it was getting judged unfairly, I began thinking of Grindhouse's and exploitation movies.
If this was the 70's, CRIMSON PEAK would be pulled from the theater and repackaged for later. The studio or distribution would make some edits making it more scary and give the film a new title, something like BARONESS OF BLOOD. With the changes and new title it'd probably make a killing at a Drive-In or Grindhouse. Of course nothing about CRIMSON PEAK needs to be changed. It's just another crazy idea that my movie geek mind came up with.
I highly recommend CRIMSON PEAK. It's one of the year's best!