Peak Del Toro

Actually I think Pan’s Labyrinth was possibly peak Del Toro, but I have not seen that.

What I did watch as a 99c movie recently, though – and in two parts – was Crimson Peak. I make it a rule to never watch horror, but I had been emboldened by Only Lovers left Alive, which was not really horror either, even though its main characters were vampires.

I don’t think Crimson Peak could really be classified as horror, either. It is more of a gothic tale featuring some ghosts and a couple of horrific murders. I made the mistake – as I often do with rentals – of leaving it until right before the expiry date to watch, and of also starting the film, with its 2 hour running time, when I had no hope of getting through it in one sitting.

I  started out by deliberately distancing myself from the movie, so as not to get too sucked in by the horror, but this is a terrible way to watch a film – particularly one which takes, as it does, such care to create and build a beautifully designed world. The date is sort of Victorian and it starts in America and ends in the UK at the property built on the red clay which gives Crimson Peak its name.

A young woman and aspiring writer, living with her father is wooed by an Englishman, who is visiting the US with his sister to raise funds to build a machine that will help him mine the red clay under his home. Despite her father’s misgivings she ends up marrying him and going to live in the run down mansion with him and his sister.

It is a house and family of secrets and she quickly finds herself in danger as the man in America she rejected for the suave English Baronet races against time to piece together the information that her father had uncovered about the siblings before his untimely death. She, too begins to learn about the house and the terribly history of the family. But will she be able to escape a terrible fate before it befalls her?

I did not have the luxury of time to find out – and I made a decision just over half way though the film to look up the plot to see what happened.

What? I hear you gasp, Spoliers! Yeah spoilers. Sometimes when I am watching a film I am more interested in enjoying the film and its characters than in following the mechanics of the plot, so I googled it. This is why I almost always enjoy a film better on second viewing. With all the tension out of the way, I could then sit back and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about who was going to come a cropper and whether or not a ghost was about to appear.

It is lovely to look at. I doubt, given the hyperbole that it seems to attract, that it is as good as Pan’s Labyrinth and despite some common casting (Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska) it is completely different to Only Lovers, which enjoys playing with the anachronisms of old souls in a modern world. 

Crimson peak has a strong performances from all the cast and despite the two lead female characters being rooted in a time when men were very much the decision makers, the struggle between them is very much at the front, centre and heart of the film.

Not an unforgettable film but an enjoyable one and exquisite to look at. I enjoyed it.

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