Skip to main content

Footage of 'Cobra Kai' The Karate Kid Saga Continues Coming To YouTube Red Original Series

Movie Review: Crimson Peak

Horror-drama looks great, but its story is ghostly.

Review by Brandon Wolfe

Early in Crimson Peak, aspiring writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) proclaims of a story she’s working on, “It’s not a ghost story, it’s a story with a ghost in it.” It’s a highly self-aware moment from writer/director Guillermo del Toro, as that very same distinction could also be applied to his latest film. Crimson Peak is being marketed as a full-blown spookfest, the period setting and prestigious cast seemingly the only things separating it from a regular monthly installment from the Blumhouse factory. Truth be told, while there are ghosts in play during Crimson Peak, and while they do some freaky things, they exist solely as an accessory in a story that isn’t actually about them, that potentially doesn’t even require them.

In the late 19th Century, wealthy American industrialist Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver) takes a meeting with an aristocratic British entrepreneur, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who is attempting to sell a machine designed to extract pure clay from soil. Cushing, with a lifetime of manual labor under his belt, takes an immediate dislike to Thomas simply due to the man’s dandyish exterior. Edith, however, feels precisely the opposite, instantly falling for Thomas’ charms. Thomas has in tow his frigid sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and the two of them exude a conspiratorial aura where the Cushings are concerned. After conducting a background search and not liking what it turns up, Carter forces Thomas to break things off with Edith and to leave the country, but Thomas stays, insisting that he cannot bear to leave his love. When Carter is brutally (and I mean brutally) murdered the next morning, Edith quickly finds herself married to Thomas and moving across the pond into the Sharpe’s dilapidated mansion, which is slowly sinking into the bright-red pit of clay resting just beneath the foundation.

Edith, who as a child was visited (and warned about a mysterious Crimson Peak) by the ghost of her mother, begins to witness horrific apparitions throughout the mansion. However, her primary focus always appears to be Thomas, who vacillates between being warm and distant toward her. Warmth, however, is never evinced by the icy Lucille, who doesn’t extend much in the way of hospitality toward Edith except during her frequent, ominous attempts to serve her new sister-in-law some bitter-tasting tea. After awhile, with some prodding from the house’s spirit inhabitants, Edith begins to learn that there exists a sinister history behind the Sharpe siblings, yet she’s too isolated by the house’s desolate location to escape. A suitor (Charlie Hunnam) from back home pieces together her predicament from afar, but perhaps too late.

Crimson Peak has a sumptuous look to it. It’s a gorgeous film, and the visuals of the decaying mansion are a haunting pleasure to look upon. This is hardly a surprise coming from del Toro, who has always possessed a keen eye for set design in his films. However, the problem that continually plagues del Toro’s work is that it often feels as though his visual gifts are all that he has to give. Throughout his oeuvre, he’s given us some amazing sights and impeccably detailed creatures (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy II, parts of Pacific Rim), but one can’t help but wish that del Toro might eventually offer up a story worthy of his meticulously crafted worlds. Crimson Peak wants to be a tragic love story, a murder mystery and a haunted-house thriller all at once, but it doesn’t quite succeed at any of those goals. The bond between Thomas and Edith is never deeply felt, the mystery and machinations of the Sharpes too obvious and the ghosts too infrequent in their appearances. This leaves the film standing solely as a plodding costume drama, glacially paced and not containing the sort of enthralling revelations necessary to help enliven the story’s mundanity.

The characters are a bit frustrating as well. Edith is introduced as a confident, headstrong young woman, more free-spirited and determined than the era in which she lives would seem to allow, yet once she takes up residence with the Sharpes, she becomes a bit of a simp. She takes an eternity to realize that something is amiss with her hosts, she often neglects to mention her ghostly encounters to anyone, and when a crucial piece of mail arrives for her from Milan, she puts a pin in opening it for the longest time. In other words, she becomes the sort of dopey, aggravating character one expects from horror films of a far lesser pedigree than this one, and there is little Wasikowska can do to rescue the character from such poor writing.

Hiddleston and Chastain fare a bit better. It is often difficult to get a handle on how trustworthy or sincere we are expected to regard Thomas from scene to scene. Were the film smarter about the secrets surrounding the characters, that might have been a laudable choice, but the truth is that the gut impression most audience members will make about what’s going on with the Sharpes from the film’s earliest scenes will ultimately prove correct, even if Crimson Peak will proceed to behave as though it has a wealth of enigmas to untangle until the very end. But Hiddleston does commendable work even amidst these limitations, and Chastain has a good time metamorphosing from grim-faced hauteur to vengeful banshee.

Ultimately, Crimson Peak feels like a lot of nothing in particular. The ghost sequences are well done, their grotesque ornateness contrasting nicely against the film’s otherwise formal ambiance (there’s a neat touch where smoke appears to emanate from them; there’s a less neat one where they croak exactly like the girl from The Grudge), but again, they are not what the film is centered around. The real focus of the film is intended to be the unravelling of the schemes of the villains and reveling in the tormented romance between the leads, and these things simply are not as compelling as they are intended. del Toro knows how to transport us to vividly realized fantasy worlds, he just needs to figure out what to do once he gets us there.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.


Aaron Jones said…
I have to concur with the majority of things you said in your review. I'm never one to figure out the mystery, but when my suspicions about what was going on were confirmed, I wondered if I was getting smarter or if it was too easy. I also have to agree with your assessment of Del Toro. So far, Pan's Labyrinth seems to be his career-high, along with Hellboy in the comic book/graphic novel world.

Popular posts from this blog

Enter For A Chance To Win Tickets To See DEATH WISH In Dallas

Enter For A Chance To Win Screening Passes To See DEATH WISH on February 28th at 7:00 PM in Dallas.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents director Eli Roth's reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller Death Wish. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city's violence when it is rushed into his ER - until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts his family's assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media's attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel or a grim reaper. Fury and fate collide in the intense action-thriller Death Wish.


#UNCLEDREW Character Posters

After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend UNCLE DREW (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time. The two men embark on a road trip to round up Drew's old basketball squad (Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie) and prove that a group of septuagenarians can still win the big one.

After a successful five years as a fan-favorite digital episodic series, originally conceived by Pepsi, UNCLE DREW, will hit theaters June 29, 2018.

UNCLE DREW is a Summit Entertainment release produced by Temple Hill in association with PepsiCo’s Creators League Studios.

Release Date:June 29, 2018

Movie Review: Black Panther One of the best MCU films

Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

Zach reviews: Black Panther

Youtube Channel for sandwichjohnfilms:

Make sur…