Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Crimson Peak" (2015)

Thanks, Mom.

The opening scenes of “Crimson Peak” have Edith’s mom’s ghost warning her against the titular estate. But, by the time Edith hears the house called by that name, it is far too late for her to beware anything. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the mother to say, “Beware of Thomas Sharp”?

Of course that would ruin the fun of the story. If Edith heeded the warning, we wouldn’t get the adventure. This is not a mystery. We know what is going on because the filmmakers let us see the scheming right from the start. This is not a ghost story. The spirits are merely there to give Edith’s suspicions and insights corporeal form. This is not a gothic romance. Love does not quite manage to triumph in the end.

What it is is a monster story, one of the psychopathic, humans can be monsters, monster stories. And it is delivered with a flair and artistic manner where every shot, every set, every detail is carefully orchestrated for effect. Colors are carefully selected. Look at the use of red, for example. There are echoes of classic directors like Hitchcock and Bava. It is one of those films that merit multiple viewings.

And beyond all of that flair there is the simple, universal message so common to many gothic stories: beware! The world can be a very dangerous place, especially if you are a naïve, trusting, young soul who doesn’t listen to the wiser voices in your lives, be they parents, ghosts, or both.

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