Movie Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

crimson-peak-posterHalloween is only a few days away, and in the years past I would make an effort to watch and review as many horror films as possible. Life has a way of getting in the way of course, and now I’m lucky if I can get to see a small handful of scary movies.

One of those few films was Crimson Peak, directed by the great Guillermo Del Toro. I didn’t even think I’d get to see this movie in the theater, but an opportunity came up and I took it… the trailers for this film looked like it was a beautiful film with beautiful set pieces in the world of turn of the century England. This is a Victorian era ghost story, what more can you ask for?!

Crimson Peak follows the story of Edith, a young girl who was raised by her father, a wealthy businessman working in Buffalo, New York. Edith‘s mother died when she was just a small child, and (presumably) her mother visits her beyond the grave, and gives her a warning to avoid the Crimson Peak. Fast forward to Edith, now in her 20s, an aspiring writer who strives to get her ghost story published.

As this is the days long before Kickstarter; Thomas Sharp, a young and handsome English gentleman arrives (Tom Hiddleston) seeking funding for a strip mining excavator that he has invented. Edith’s father has an uneasy feeling about Thomas and his sister, Lucille who accompanies him on the trip. He hires a private investigator to dig up information about the Sharp’s in order to satiate the feeling he is having. Meanwhile, Thomas is getting closer to Edith, sweeping her off her feet.

After a tragic event, Edith marries Thomas and accompanies him back to England to live in this large, cold, mansion which is falling apart and beyond repair. This is where the fun begins, as Edith explores the house, she quickly learns the truth about Thomas and his sister.

There’s so much I’m leaving out, but I can’t spoil this movie for you as the reveals are all part of the fun of this movie. I say this is a fun movie, which is true… but the plot overall was very weak. Guillermo Del Toro is an excellent filmmaker, and he’s working in a genre that is not new to him… he started his career making horror films like The Devil’s Backbone and Cronos, (two movies I’ve unfortunately not seen, but I’ve heard they are really great films) so he knows horror. However, there was something about this movie that just fell flat. I enjoyed the movie, but I have a hard time getting past the weak plot… it’s as if the plot was only there to serve the visuals. The creation of Buffalo and England in the Victorian era was flawless, and the Sharp’s mansion fit the genre perfectly. During the films’ climax, the audience is taken from the dark monochromatic mansion, to the bright white (and also monochromatic) landscape in the middle of a snowstorm, which helps to add a level of spookiness to the final scene.

All of this eye candy made the film more appealing, but the one visual element of the film that didn’t work was the ghosts themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they were freaky as hell… but there was no consistency between the various ghosts. The translucent figures seen in these types of movies were more or less abandoned for a dark black or red spirit that is far from translucent. They looked more like a zombie covered in charcoal dust, with the ability to float (confused?). There was one ghost in the film that did follow the paradigm of past ghost stories, and it felt out of place because it was so different from all the other ghosts.

The other big complaint I had with the movie, was the casting of Jessica Chastain. She is a wonderful actress, and has the ability to pull off an outstanding (and award winning) performance, but sadly she was miscast for this role. I don’t believe it was because she was playing a British woman, or because her signature red hair was instead a dark dark black. I honestly don’t know what it was about her performance that was lacking, but she did not fit that role. Since her award winning performance in Zero Dark Thirty, it would seem that Jessica Chastain is in every single movie now, and with so many great actresses out there, it feels as though she was only cast because she’s a Golden Globe winner, and the current Hollywood “it” girl.

All that aside, Tom Hiddleston turned out a perfect performance as an English gentleman. His character becomes creepier and creepier as we learn more about him. Mia Wasikowska was also wonderful in this film, her character was powerful, determined and independent, and she played her character with that same gumption.

If you like ghost stories though, than this movie might scare the pants off you… the ghosts ARE pretty freaky, and got my heart jumping a little bit. So keep that in mind when deciding if you want to go see it.

Obvious Child

Obvious Child is a small indie film from 2014, co-written by and directed by Gillian Robespierre and starring Jenny Slate. The story follows Donna, a young comedienne who gets pregnant after a one night stand. As she’s coping with being pregnant and what to do next, the universe seems to be pushing her and her “one night stand” together.

Jenny Slate is primarily known as a comedic actress, she spent one season on Saturday Night Live and had recurring roles on shows like Parks and Recreation and The Kroll Show. However, this film proves that she can do more than just comedy… well, sort of…. even though this film deals with real life topics, Slate plays out those dramatic elements with her own brand of humor. It’s as if the character of Donna was written specifically for Slate.
This film is quite brave, it takes an unfavorable view of abortion that most hollywood movies shy away from.
Movies like Knocked Up and Juno don’t even entertain the idea of an abortion more than just a passing comment. In this film keeping the baby is not even an option for Donna, especially in her current life situation.
Again, this element of the story is very brave considering it would offend the so called moral majority. But the writers and filmmakers took a stance which shows that sometimes people aren’t ready for what life throws at them, and they are forced to make a very hard, real-life decision.
Regardless of the topic or the decision she made, it was a breath of fresh air to see a film where the filmmakers aren’t shy about dealing with such a polarizing issue. Film is a communication medium, and whether you agree with the filmmakers viewpoints or not, more filmmakers shouldn’t be afraid of taking a stance on an issue that’s important to them.
Similar to Mom’s Night Out, which used the medium to communicate their message. It may not have been a message you agree with, but You have to respect them for doing it.
Another stand out in this film was the actor Jake Lacy, who spent a few seasons on The Office, but is largely unknown. Lacy played the “one night stand”, and he was so charming it’s hard not to fall in love with him.
His character was so interested in Donna he would have done anything for her. He was working so hard to get her to reciprocate, but Donna is so preoccupied with her situation she doesn’t notice him (it took her awhile to tell him about the baby).
I personally had been looking forward to this film since I initially heard about it on NPR. Being a fan of Jenny Slate, I was interested to see what she would do in such a dramatic role. Happily I was not disappointed… in fact I loved this movie so much it may have a place on my top 10 list of 2014. And not just because of Jenny Slate. even though she made this movie what it was, it was Jake Lacy, and the films producers that really made this film so special. It was a modern day fairy tale, albeit a not so perfect one.

Leonard Nimoy…


Okay, I wanna say something… I am a newcomer to Star Trek, I watched it here and there as a kid, but I appreciate it more as an adult.  But that doesn’t matter, because I’ve always known who Mr. Spock was… I can’t remember ever NOT knowing who he was.  Spock is an icon… Star Trek is an icon.

I have much respect for Leonard Nimoy because of Spock.

It’s really a shame though.  Excuse me as I get on a bandwagon… Leonard Nimoy died as a result of having COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease.  According to a great article I read, COPD is related to emphysema which is the disease most associated with smoking tobacco.

Leonard Nimoy quit smoking 30 years ago, my grandfather quit smoking over 40 years ago… I stopped smoking over 2 years ago… it’s not worth it, the damage is done.


Leonard Nimoy 193-2015

Don't take it from me, take it from the man himself.

Don’t take it from me, take it from the man himself.