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Review: Crimson Peak

Mia Wasikowska stars in Universal Pictures' CRIMSON PEAK

From a distance, Crimson Peak looks as if it has the potential to provide plenty of quality entertainment value for anyone interested in seeing it. With Guillermo del Toro behind the camera and a heralded cast in front of it, this is the kind of movie that should be difficult to mess up. At least that’s what I thought before I actually saw it, but that isn’t exactly how it all turned out.

The story centers around Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a young American woman with a dream of becoming a novelist. Up until this sequence of circumstances, she hasn’t had love on her mind. But when she becomes enamored with a British stranger (Tom Hiddleston), not only does her stance on the matters of love change, but she finds herself regretting her decision to ignore the warnings she’s been receiving ever since she was a little girl.

Because it felt like it was so long, I can’t say if it lasted for an hour or less, but the scenes at the start of Crimson Peak managed to bore me a good bit. I understand that they want to build the story up and everything, but this is nothing more than a waste of time from where I’m sitting. Unfortunately for anyone familiar with movies these days, this approach to filmmaking is all too familiar with movies that want to stretch to at least two hours or so for no particular reason.

I used to believe that horror films should never go anywhere near two hours in length simply because the material seems to never extend that far. However, it’s becoming quite obvious that more and more modern films outside of that genre have the same issue. A frequently growing trend that doesn’t appear to want to slow down is having movies drag on forever before audiences are offered anything worthwhile. That’s what happens again here, and it almost becomes a chore to watch it.

After these parts that are busy serving up wall to wall boredom and almost nothing else are done with, Crimson Peak does get better since things actually start to happen. Once there’s a shift, the characters begin to show signs of life as the movie finally starts to awaken from the slumber that it was all too peacefully resting in. It’s almost as if Guillermo del Toro was just holding all he had back until they got to a certain period where he knew something resembling a movie needed to be included.

Because of this, you could literally skip over most everything in these early scenes and not lose out on much. Unfortunately, while the scenes that follow are a vast improvement over what precedes it, the rest of Crimson Peak is only decent at best. Why? Because almost all of it manages to be extremely predictable. While this level of predictability is not enough for me to completely dislike Crimson Peak, it does put another noticeable dent into my view of it.

If this were 1980 instead of 2015, there could have been more of a chance that the all too predictable twists wouldn’t have been as easy to see coming. I know there’s a “modern twist” to Crimson Peak, but it’s ultimately filled with the same stuff we have already been seeing. “Modernizing” it doesn’t make it any less repetitive. That’s especially true when that itself is being done over and over again.

The fact that we’ve been seeing much of the same things in so many horror films for at least four decades now tells you that there really needs to be more added to the genre. Just about every other genre has changed a great deal over that period multiple times, so why not this one? Sure, they’ve added that “found footage” thing, but even that’s creeping up on twenty years. Plus, that style of filmmaking hasn’t exactly proven to be a positive addition.

While technically Del Toro doesn’t want to see this as a horror film, it will be seen as one by just about everyone else. That’s why it’s being released in October. Regardless of how it’s viewed, you may leave the theater thinking about all that could have been when you notice that much of what’s included isn’t even put to use. For those of you looking for anything fresh, genuinely complex or more consistently scary, you may want to “beware of Crimson Peak” and consider avoiding it.

Rating: R

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Mia Wasikowska
Jessica Chastain
Tom Hiddleston
Charlie Hunnam
Jim Beaver

Film Length: 119 minutes

Release Date: October 16, 2015

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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