Klavan On The Culture

"Crimson Peak:" Goth By A Guy Who Knows Goth

Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is not, I’m sad to say, the great film it could’ve been, but it’s a pleasure to watch and well done with actors — especially Jessica Chastain — having an infectiously good time with the over-the-top material.

People throw the word “gothic” around too much, but del Toro knows what gothic is and he plays it classic. Innocent but spunky girl trapped in a deteriorating house with evildoers plotting against her while she catches on far more slowly than the audience. Check. Weird machinery. Check. Grotesque effects. Check. And ghosts…  lots of ghosts. Check and check. The graphic violence is also part of the genre but I could have done without it. It seemed out of place in what, otherwise, was fun Saturday fare.

My biggest complaints — and I knew I’d be complaining from the trailer: too much sfx, too many boo scares. Ghosts are a delicate matter and need to be played for chills not starts. Del Toro seemed to know that when he made The Devil’s Backbone. But maybe the box office demands that subtlety go by the boards. I don’t say that in a cynical way. Movies are expensive and have to make their money back. Still, speaking personally, I’d’ve preferred a few more creepy moments and a few less skeletal CGI faces bursting suddenly through doors.

Other than that, though, really: fun.