Dueling Critics: Crimson Peak

15:30 October 28, 2015
By: David Vicari, Fritz Esker

Soon after a family tragedy, writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) marries relative stranger Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into his bedraggled mansion, which sits atop “Crimson Peak.” Not only does Edith have to deal with Thomas' volatile sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), but also spirits who are at unrest in this Gothic horror film from filmmaker  Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth).

Fritz: Gothic horror is in short supply these days, so when a filmmaker with Guillermo del Toro's pedigree takes it on in Crimson Peak, there's reason for excitement. However, I though that the movie, while not bad, was a letdown. You liked it more. What about it worked for you? 

David: To be clear, this is lesser del Toro, but the movie does have wonderful, creepy atmosphere, is beautifully shot and is well performed by a game cast. I liked Tom Hiddleston in particular. He did a good job as a man conflicted.

Fritz: The film's look is terrific. But I just thought the script was too predictable. There wasn't any suspense for me because I felt I was always a step ahead of the movie. And at nearly 2 hours, I got tired of it.

David: Yes, it was predictable and I was always ahead of its plot points as well, but I still was invested in the characters and that made for a suspenseful finale.

Now there are two moments of extreme violence, and some would say that the movie is just going for cheap gore but I disagree. The audience freaked out at those moments - I even saw someone run out of the auditorium - so I would say those moments got the desired effect. They were highly effective! As jaded I am with violence and gore, I even flinched. How about you?

Fritz: I didn't think it was effective. I typically wince when a character meets a gruesome end in any movie. It just struck me as gory instead of scary or suspenseful. And speaking of violence, there's one bit late in the film that I thought was laughable because it involves a character laughably underestimating someone that character knows is a multiple murderer.

I like the idea of more horror being aimed at adults and not teenagers (stop with the found footage movies, Hollywood!!!), so I wanted to like Crimson Peak more than I did. But alas, to me it was a beautiful package with very little inside. 

David: Yes, there is a silly lapse in judgment by a character as he faces down a killer, but I still thought del Toro was able wring some tension out of that scene. And I feel this movie is a bit more intelligent than you are giving it credit for.

Crimson Peak is good – not great – but perfect for Halloween/Fall season viewing. 

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