Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crimson Peak (2015)


“Ghosts are real, that much I know. I've seen them all my life...”

            When I was younger someone in my family got married at this old house somewhere in what seemed like the middle of nowhere in northern New Jersey. I remember the outside of the house was a light gray-blue and then there was this old library with white shelves. In that library there was this photo album that pictures of ghosts. These photos were taken around the house that we were in. I vividly remember a picture of a ghost of a little girl standing in the library I was currently standing in! Needless to say those damn pictures scared the ever living shit out of me for the next few years. Just remembering that experience to write that story up is sending shivers down my twenty-seven-year-old spine.
            Ghosts stories scare me. I sat through Insidious once and if you have seen it the lady in black terrified me and so did that demon looking thing (Side note: I am writing this review down in the office in my basement at 11:30pm. Am I scaring the shit out of myself? You bet. Am I ashamed to be admitting all of this? Absolutely). There is a dark corner in my room near the door that I could not look at with the lights off after watching Insidious. Even though I am complete chicken shit when it comes to watching horror movies or scary movies I do make occasional exceptions such as Insidious because of Rose Byrne and The Babadook because my brothers told me the story was really good. All of my exceptions come about because of either the story or the cast. For the new Crimson Peak I really had no idea what the story was about. All I knew is that Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston are in a movie directed by Guillermo del Toro and I HAD to make an exception to see it.
            The story begins with a young girl named Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska). When Edith was little her mother passed away from Cholera. A few days after the funeral her mother came to her as a ghost warning her to “beware of Crimson Peak.”
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            Fourteen years later Edith is a young woman. She is trying to get her book published but no one is taking her seriously. One publisher wants her to add a romantic element to it. Edith decides to type up her draft so no publisher can judge the book on her handwriting. A good looking and mysterious British man named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) comes into the office. He has an appointment with her father who is a wealthy architect.
            Thomas lives on a clay mine. He is looking for backers to invest in his steam engine that can dig the clay out of the ground and then they can use it for their buildings. Mr. Cushing likes Thomas but he comments that Thomas has soft hands which means he has never physically worked a day in his life. He declines Thomas’s proposal. But Thomas and his eerily dark sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) have one more angle they can play. Thomas has Edith fall in love with him. Mr. Cushing is wary of the siblings and has them investigated. When he finds some unsavory facts out about them he pays them to leave.
            Big shock, Mr. Cushing is killed leaving Thomas and Edith free to marry. After their honeymoon Thomas takes Edith back to his family home Allerdale Hall. The house is literally falling apart. There is a giant hole in the roof letting in the cold of the winter, clay seeps through the walls like water, and the house is slowly sinking in the red clay.
            Things soon begin to take a turn for the creepy. Edith wakes up in pain in the middle of the night and she hears crying and noises in the hallway. When she sees the source of the noise she sees a red skeletal figure coming towards her. These figures in various forms and in various rooms appear to Edith night after night warning her to leave. Her final push to leave the house is when Thomas tells her that when it snows the red clay comes up and the locals call the house Crimson Peak.
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            Edith learns Lucille and Thomas’s motives. They are not good for her and do not always end very well for others.
            The cast was fantastic but this movie was owned by Jessica Chastain. Now I am sure I am totally biased because Chastain is one of my favorite actresses ever and I have yet to see her in a role where I think she is terrible. When it comes to Chastain I always says that no movie ever suffers when she is in it she is that amazing. And let me tell you the woman does not disappoint in the slightest in Crimson Peak. In the last maybe forty-five minutes of the movie Lucille goes off the deep end and Chastain just blew my mind. Whenever I see her in a film I am not seeing her as just as actress in the part, Chastain is truly the character she is playing. The character of Lucille I feel would not have worked as well had a lesser actress played the role. Lucille was a character who was a bit up and down in personality and then her personality and her eeriness just exploded at the end. She was very much under control for the first half of the movie and then had to majorly unravel. Chastain nailed it to perfection. Chastain needs to be handed some kind of award for her acting right now. Tom Hiddleston was wonderful. He is the same as Chastain in the way that he does such a good job with his characters that you are not watching an actor you are watching a character. Mia Wasikowska I may have seen in a few films before this but I am not sure. I liked her acting and she did a great job playing Edith. I liked how Edith was not completely over taken by fear she went for it exploring the house and facing down Lucille in the end.
            Guilermo del Toro is an awesome director. He has such a unique style to his direction and writing. He takes the idea of a ghost story and a gothic romance that could be typical but he makes them his own. Del Toro did the same thing with the book and TV show The Strain, it is a completely different telling of humans vs. vampires and it is genius.  With this ghost story/gothic romance the ghosts were not the main focus. It was the human and psychological story that was at the forefront. If you like Crimson Peak absolutely check out del Toro’s Spanish language movie The Devil’s Backbone.
            The sets and the cinematography were outstanding. The dark greys and blues and blacks with the crimson red of the ghosts and the clay seeping through walls was a wonderful contrast. The set of the house was beyond perfect it set the tone as soon as Edith walks into the house. I loved the set of Edith’s house where she lived with her father. There is a stunningly gorgeous Victorian house attached to the Newark Museum in New Jersey called the Ballantine House. It is one of my favorite places to visit and I wrote quite a few papers on it in college. The set of Edith house instantly reminded me of the Ballantine House. The set looked almost very similar to the real Victorian house.
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            I cannot suggest any more highly how you should go see Crimson Peak as soon as you can. It was the perfect balance of creepy and good storytelling that lacks in some horror movies. As I mentioned at the beginning I am usually chicken shit when it comes to horror movies and I am proud to say that there was only ONE scene that scared the every living shit out of me that I jumped and freak out thinking about when I am alone in the basement… just liked I am now… gotta go now! 
This is the one scene that freaked me the eff out!