Oct. 19th, 2015

clevermanka: default (horror-based idea)
There's not a person who knows me who'll be surprised that I loved Crimson Peak. But even I didn't anticipate to what extent I would absolutely love this movie. Let me articulate (try to articulate) why.

Without a doubt, this movie is beautiful. I am completely sympathetic to the fact that there are people who don't appreciate this genre of movie, but anyone who cannot admit it was beautifully filmed is just flat wrong. The sets perfectly communicated the feel of a scene. Did you/the characters feel trapped? Lost? Overwhelmed? Confined? Safe? The sets were just as much a part of the plot of a scene as the actors. The costumes were spot-on. Sumptuous (and appropriately gaudy on some minor characters) and detailed but still worn by the characters rather than the other way around (which can happen in period pieces). The effects were beautiful, too. I loved the depictions of the ghosts. Scary books for kids in the 70s were pretty gruesome--a surprising number of details of dismembered children and malicious evils were found in those pages--and I read a lot of them. The ghosts del Toro envisioned for this were the closest thing in appearance I've ever seen to how those ghosts looked that I imagined when I was a child.

But the cinematography. Oh, the cinematography was the real clincher. With his use of (dated, archaic) transitions between several scenes, del Toro conveyed that he was making a modern version of a Gothic romance where the only updates were the general capabilities of current film-making and and perhaps (perhaps) a more complex story-telling. The first time one of the iris-style fades happened, I was taken a bit out of the story because it was something we don't see in modern films. When it happened again, it because obvious that del Toro was using the style of fade to tell the viewer "Yes, we made a straight-up old-fashioned Gothic romance and you are going to watch and experience it on our terms," and I thought that was delightful.

I'm not going to get much into the plot because I know a lot of people haven't seen it yet. Let me detail a few more specific things that made this movie such a glorious experience for me without giving away too many spoilers (at least no more spoilers than you'd get in the previews).

Hiddleston. Obviously. I mean, just obviously. I realized I'm biased, but he's amazing. When it comes to current actors with the ability to simultaneously convey multiple complex emotions without speaking a word, I think he's second only to Martin Freeman.

All the actors were great, though. Mia Wasikowska portrayed a bookish anti-socialite without slipping into a shy, backwards Jane Eyre-esque model (and since she did a wonderful Jane Eyre, that was impressive and a relief). She was reserved, but her passion and drive when she came into her own were entirely believable. Jessica Chastain underplayed Lucille's role perfectly--she could have devolved into shrieking melodrama, but didn't. Charlie Hunam's character was also understated and perfectly played a bit dull. I completely understood why the character of Edith was uninterested in him as anything more than a friend without losing any sympathy for him.

The mood developed slowly, and at one point I thought it was really time to start getting scary already, but then I remembered I was watching del Toro's movie on his own terms. Once I sat back and let it happen when it happened, it was lovely. It was rather like watching a slow motion train wreck. You know it's going to end horribly, but you don't know the details of how so you can't stop watching. It's the details of how that build the tension and when Edith starts putting the pieces together, everything else starts falling apart in perfect timing.

I love how Edith is not a shrinking violet. She might not be an aggressive person, but she knows her own mind and desires. There's the sex scene which we all know about from the trailers, but what the trailers don't show is how Edith, not Thomas, is in control of what's going on in that bed. It's wonderful.

And of course, the ending. Del Toro et.al. have repeatedly said this is Gothic romance, not horror, and I agree. But it is also heavily invested in the horror aspects of this type of romance and there are some things that had to happen and they did. I'll leave it at that unless someone wants to discuss spoilers with me in the comments. I left the theater completely satisfied with the ending--a feeling that was certainly absent when I saw the most comparable movie to this, Radcliffe's Woman in Black, a few years ago.

[livejournal.com profile] mckitterick and I caught an early Saturday matinee and two hours after we got home, I still had a tight feeling in my chest from All The Feels this movie gave me. It was just. so. good.

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