[Directed by : Guillermo del Toro Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain ]
Guillermo Del Toro along with Alfonso Cuaron and Roberto Rodriguez remains my favorite directors far more than crowd pleaser like say a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg or even a Quentin Tarantino. I have made my view clear, more times than I can count on this blog, that I dislike too clever by half film making like Nolan does and just don’t get the point of trying the audiences patience in the name of re-inventing genres. If you want to reinvent genres there is no better example than and you can quote me on this, the new sherlock Holmes series directed by Guy Ritchie. For a guy who made something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to go onto make Sherlock Holmes is the definitive example of reinvention. Anyway tongue-in-cheek aside, Del Toro’s latest Gothic thriller Crimson Peak sticks to all the tropes of a successful goth mystery and makes a eminently watchable movie. There are no surprises here, no multiple climaxes with multiple viewpoints,no characters spoofing off dark, angst-ridden dialogues, in fact there is nothing that is out of place in a clichéd goth movie and yet, and yet, the movie hits the sweet spot of a perfect goth-genre thriller. Much of the credit for this should go to the perfect casting – especially the hero, Tom Hiddleston, the actor last seen smiling sinisterly as Thor’s brother Loki in the mindless froth that was Thor-2, a series killer of a movie if ever there was one. What a fine character actor like Tom Hiddleston was doing in such a movie like Thor makes the mind baffle, but maybe being in such a froth helps refine the acting chops I guess. In the way of, if I can be Loki for a couple of films, then the paycheck means I can act to my hearts content in better and more meaningful movies for the rest of my life.
Anyway to get back to the movie, crimson peak starts off as a conventional ghost film but set in 1887. A young girl Edith Cushing, played later on by the fragile looking Mia Wasikowska, goes to her mothers funeral and later that night she gets a visit from the just buried mother. The revenant warns her to beware of crimson peak but does not offer any further detailed explanations before disappearing. Cue to twenty years or so later and the little girl is now all grown up and is a serious aspiring writer. On one of her numerous attempts to get the manuscript of, get this, ghost stories she has written published, she runs into an impoverished aristocrat from England, Sir Thomas Sharpe, who is on a funding raising tour of new york to finance his recent invention of an automatic clay mining engine. Naturally he charms the skirts of the heroine who despite the stern warnings of her father proceeds to fall head over heels in love with the dark brooding hero played by Tom Hiddleston who makes his noble poverty despite his baronetcy his major attracting point besides dancing the waltz like a pro. The fly in the ointment- the heroines father is soon dispatched off by a mysterious hand and the couple now united in matrimony fly back to the ancestral seat of the baronet, called naturally, wait for it, Crimson Peak.
Thrown in an old creaking mansion half exposed to the elements, a senile half crazy retainer of the family who seems to know a lot of buried secrets, an always snowing weather which sets the scene for premeditated crime and a brooding spinster sister of the hero, played with panache by Jessica Chastain, who show signs of too much possessiveness, read, psycho-level possessiveness and you have the perfect atmosphere for a kick ass gothic noir thriller. Not to mention, ghost after ghost after ghost who keep appearing to the heroine alone begging her to flee the mansion before she gets chopped up like them and you have the right build up to the climax. The last half is when it all comes together when the heroine investigates and finds out the gore filled past of her husband and the basement filled with the dead bodies of his previous wives. As she is about to become the latest occupant of the basement she is saved by her longtime beau and once rejected suitor who has expressly traveled down from America to expose the sisterinlaw as the murderess of her father and who in turn almost becomes the latest casualty. The end is a bloody girl on girl action when the heroine Edith faces off against her sister in law Lucille Sharpe, for the right to sleep with her husband who happens, just happens, to come in the middle of the two ladies and gets conveniently killed.
Now it woudnt be far for me to give any more spoilers away and I suggest you watch the movie when and if it releases in india or get your hands on a DVD if you happen to visit Ritchie Street, like I did. Happy watching.