A Story with Ghosts in It

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film Crimson Peak has picked up a lot of hype as a horror movie. But what is Chrisom Peak exactly? And how does it stack up to his other works.

Edith was visited by the ghost of her mother as a child and it warned her from Crimson Peak. But that cryptic message becomes less of a concern as she grew into adulthood.  Edith must entertain the advances of her childhood friend Dr. Alana McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and exotic stranger (Tom Hiddleston) with a bad reputation while being shunned as a female author.  After her father dies, she marries Thomas Sharpe despite his bad reputation. They join his sitter in their decrepitated manor England. Once here, the ghosts come back to warn of betrayal and murder.

crimson-peak-posterThe problem with Crimson Peak is that it’s not scary. I had read that it was supposed to be scary and was highly disappointed. There was some violence and gore but no scares. My friend had to point out that it was more Gothic horror than a traditional horror movie, and I have tried to see it in that light. While it helped my perspective of the story, it did not really help with my enjoyment of the film. Del Toro is a fanboy and all his best work emulates his influences and likes but most add his own touch and makes it his. This is a love song to Gothic horror stories but adds very little new ideas other than some horrific violence.  The movie is basically “The Woman in Black” combined with “The House of Yes.” Taking ideas, atmospheres, and stories from a plethora of sources (Poe, Bronte just to name a few) they are hodgepodged together with little subtlety. The writing treats us like children showing us that they are telling a version of Jane Eyre with Mary Shelley undertones. We have to guess nothing that happens as we know how these stories play out. It reminds you in exposition that it is a romance and it is a story with ghosts in it (seemingly to fight off the mislead advertising for the film). This is insulting to the viewers and lacks the nuance of so many of Del Toro’s past works.

Jessica Chastain steals the movie and too much time is spent on Mia Wasikowska’s naive and inspecting lead character that sees specters. It is Chastain that moves the movie forward, the one that gets to play a smart and fierce woman.  But as her character’s persona denigrates, her performance crescendos. The other actors can’t keep up with her Hiddleston and Hunnam are all passable but not overly inspiring. There characters just seem to be fuel for Chastain’s playground There is only one other character that stands out so some much.crimson-peak-jessica-chastain-hiddelston-mia-wasikowska-00063r

Luckily, like most of this genre, the house becomes a character in itself and all the visuals are stunning. The house looks like other you have seen before but the deterioration and the clay that leaks from the walls and floors like blood are eerily creepy. It is the clay that leads to any kind of f horror turning everything a bloody red. The red snow is insanely creepy and is more than just a metaphor for the horrors taking place inside the house. Alas, not everything is treated with such smart double dimensions.

Unfortunately, adverting by the studio cannot contribute to the issues with the film.  Many reading this will say I am wrong, that it perfectly emulates all the classics. This is also its down fall. We del Toro fans hunger for his next project, to see how he puts himself into things that we love how he brings it into our world. But this movie didn’t do that. So the literature fan in me will subside so the nerd girl within me can start pining for Pacific Rim 2.

Pacific Rim is del Toro’s Fanboy Opus

Homages are a tricky business. Filmmakers often miss the mark and stalely repeat events of other movies with no panache or style (think Oblivion). Occasionally, the filmmaker’s love of the subject shows and fans happily ingest the wonderful reminders of movies or games they love. Pacific Rim is one such movie,

Pacific Rim is what would exist if Xenosaga and Independence Day had a baby and name Fallout and Portal the child’s god parents. The movie is about large creatures named kaiju that come from a breach on the Pacific Rim. These creatures aren’t coming from inside the Earth but through a portal of another plane. Humans band together to create giant robots that kills the Gnosis, sorry jaegers, that must be piloted by two humans. Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam star as Raleigh a pilot who loses his brother their jaeger Gipsy Danger is attacked. Reilly is brought back into the program when as the break proof wall fails to keep the monster out. The jaegers are their only hope.

PACIFIC RIMThere are classic scenes from a variety of movies. The same speech from Independence Day is included as well as a recreation of Jurassic Park’s water vibrating. These are done beautifully giving each scene its own spin. The characters are stock: a hurt hero, an avenging daughter, the snotty opponent. But these characters fit so flawlessly into this world no questions it.

Guillermo del Toro’s homages don’t stop at the films. Gipsy Danger’s AI is voiced by none other than Portal’s Ellen McLain aka GlaDOS.  The pilots live in a compound that houses bedrooms similar to those in Fallout; the pilots seem to be locked away in their own vaults. And if we discussed the anime references, this entry would last forever.

For those not into sci-fi movies and games, you’re out of luck. It will seem repetitive, absurd, and uninspired. But for fan boys and girls, this tale is gorgeous and entertaining. Peppered with humor, Pacific Rim is a fun action flick.