Friday, 16 October 2015
REVIEW: CRIMSON PEAK
119 Minutes. Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam & Jim Beaver. Director: Guillermo del Toro.
Tides of Crimson run through this portrait of Gothic love like veins. Threatening to touch any heart that comes near the creaking floorboards of this home. This mansion on a hill of red clay that's in some renovation need of some serious damp proofing. Autumn leaves falling through it like dead moths before the light burns away like ash to the snow fall of winter. And the insects...oh the insects! Have we set the scene for you for the latest from the 'Pans Labyrinth' of legendary Mexican director Guillermo del Toro? Who follows big blockbusters like 'Hellboy', 'Blade' and 'Pacific Rim' with one hell of a horror fest this side of the Atlantic just in time for Halloween. Yet this is not your average horror movie even if it will make you fall back in love with the great genre this 'Shocktober'. This house is haunted with more than just spirits. It's alive with the ghosts of love and hate and some heavyweight performances from Hollywood's best from all sorts of shores. That's what happens when you put the Marvel of the villainous Loki in the middle of a love triangle featuring his Australian bride to be Mia Wasikowska and her former 'Lawless' co-star and our suave Brit Tom Hiddleston's (who she starred alongside in the offbeat vampire romance of 'Only Lovers Left Alive') sisters keeper Jessica Chastain, reuniting with Del Toro after the 'Mama' mother of all horrors. Now with this crowded house, 'three's company' is not the idea and with all the foundations about to sink into this blood meridian, will this red dawn bring the house down?
There's more than just twin peaks in this red summit from Guillermo that is beautifully directed even in its traditional, matinee moviemaking, love storytelling, blossoming beginnings. From the set of the fortress of solidarity built to scaling new heights, to the classic American Gothic horror cinematography that is dripping with artistic blood and beauty in every frame of every scene. All your senses will be engaged in a creepy, unnerving spectacle that won't allow you to settle or take your eyes off what you don't want to see behind you. From the haunting special effects to the spirited costume design, Toro has given us another classic of his time and nothing he's done looks quite as great and grand as this. Bringing 'Thor' and 'Avengers' star Tom Hiddleston into the mix is an inspired move too. The man whose about to flip the script and sing from a whole new song sheet as Hank Williams in the 'I Saw The Light' biopic may just have his breakout, center stage spot moment right here. Sure Benedict Cumberbatch was originally eyed for this role (and the energizing Emma Stone for Mia's mesmerizing one), but to be fair this fellow classically trained actor looks like the better, perfect choice for this role and not merely the second fiddle to play. Hiddleston refuses to be the actor to go with when Benedict if busy. Tom's the one, first and foremost and is showing that he has more tricks than what lies up Loki's sleeve. Are you always going to fall for that? This guy is for real. Hiddleston doesn't just bring the charm and charisma...hell he has in his blood. He also draws out the depths and emotion of the peaks of his acting. Making us fall for all of his character, for better or worse, in love and times of cholera. Besides who else can really get up in all that vintage garb? Add veteran legend Jim Beaver whose on as fine a form as his beard than only a 'Son Of Anarchy' can stop Tom. And after driving Jaegers with Del Toro for the epic Robot/Godzilla wars of 'Pacific Rim', Charlie Hunnam is getting his detective hands dirty even if he has the eyes of an optician and one for our leading lady. The Great Brit Hunnam convinces again as an American with an accented performance that may just be among his stepped up best. You thought this big picture was all about the big three? Time to break through a fourth wall.
Beware what really lies up-top 'Crimson Peak' however and that's the two, twin leading ladies of this picture that show a modern day Hollywood that woman in this industry don't have to play up to a stereotype. Chauvinists be every afraid. Mia Wasikowska is one of the strongest young actresses out there. After falling down the rabbit hole as 'Alice In Wonderland', Mia has come back up, playing everything from 'Jane Eyre' to starring alongside two of her off-screen boyfriend Jesse Eisenberg in 'The Double'. Yet still this may just be Wasikowska's breakout and iconic role of her making too. With Goldilocks hair she lets it all down wearing a white gown and sheet by candlelight for some legendary scary scenes of walking through the dead of things that go bump in the night. Still it's Mia's complete performance of chaste courage under fear that lights up this beautiful portrait of bold as love brutality. Yet nobody gets the picture quite like the script and scene stealing Jessica Chastain who continues her modern movie domination as arguably the best actress and certainly the hardest working one around today, now even with a side of her you've never seen before. If you thought she went 'Interstellar' with her 'Most Violent Year' in 2014 than wait until you see this. You ain't seen nothing yet like her NASA commanding on fire performance of the red planet in 'The Martian' latest mission to save Matt Damon. Or this red-heads peak, going goth black for a slick, villainous, lady of jealous rage role. The madness of this woman is crazy good. Jessica plays demented with new dimension, passively, aggressively and with more upstairs than a couple of demons and skeletons in the closet. Even with layers to her scornful looks and twists to her mild-mannered to quick tempered awkward politeness you still can't help but love her and one of her best roles...by far. No matter how good the 'Zero Dark Thirty' and 'The Tree Of Life' star has been, Chastain is off the old ball and chain here with the bubbling cauldron of blood-red passion that's smoldering and simmering and could boil at any moment. That's quite a bitches brew from the sketches of former Spanish-language director Guillermo del Toro who brings us a whole new labyrinth of lovers and the tricks of his trade that this Halloween are just the treat. Fear not, American Gothic just got real scary again with 'Crimson'. Take it as red! TIM DAVID HARVEY.