With CRIMSON PEAK, his 9th feature film, Guillermo del Toro found the fantastic genre that he masters perfectly, nine years after the sublime, The Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Here it is all the same in a relatively new style in his filmography, namely a universe gothic rooted in the victorian era, the romance is an integral part. The heroine, the young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), wants to become a novelist. His encounter with the charming Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and the latter’s sister, the much less sympathetic Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), is going to upset his life.
The mexican director discusses his film in an interesting way, by cutting it in two parts concept. A first in New York, concentrated on the passionate relationship between Edith and Thomas. A second in England, concentrated on the fantastic in the environment of the gothic mansion of Sharpe. Because it’s del Toro, you remain fascinated in front of the richness of his work. But because it is del Toro, it is a pity that it demonstrates a certain facility, or even a form of laziness. In front of CRIMSON PEAK, one feels a certain uneasiness as the developer seems to copy itself.
At the sight of his entire filmography, one is entitled to expect from Guillermo del Toro a continual renewal of the imagination proposed. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case with CRIMSON PEAK , which is composed of many elements of his previous films. In this case, The Spine of the devil (2001), The Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and Mamá (2013, Andrés Muschietti , but that the presence of del Toro as the associate producer is strongly felt).
We, therefore, find in the latest film by del Toro this bathroom that looks very much like, by its constitution and the manner in which the director filmed, the one present in The Labyrinth of Pan. There is the presence in the mansion of the Sharpe’s of these large butterflies that are found in a poetic way in Mamá. There’s this aesthetic of the ghosts that will appear as Edith, tall, towering and skeletal, as a recovery is almost exact, with a few differences (color red, with hollows at the level of the eyes…) the ghost of Mamá – he even goes so far as to resume the film with a gesture of the arm made, this time, a ghost, pointing a finger at a place, but with an additional detail, a glimpse of infinite blood at the level of a head injury that characterized so well the ghost of The Spine of the devil.
Finally, from this last, one finds a sub-soil of round shapes to symbolize the confinement. The differences are minimal between this scenery and that of CRIMSON PEAK ; the red and black colors, and the vessels of clay – a clay that is dripping wonderfully of the house, which seems to be rusty but alive – replace the bluish and grisaillé that formed the basin. Even more striking, the director goes so far as to include his own words. An important sentence in the mind of the director that will tell Edith about his novel : “This is not a ghost story but with a ghost “. Words to words to the words of the director where he describes his film, The Spine of the devil.
As in The Loins of the devil, CRIMSON PEAK ends with a sequence in a basement, a sort of hunting deadly reach on suspense and tension.
“Because it’s del Toro, you remain fascinated in front of the richness of his work. And because it is del Toro, it is a pity that it is to demonstrate its ease and laziness.”
Only in itself, see del Toro, almost a monomaniac, reproduce, identical as elements of his past, is not the real complaint you could make him. We were talking about laziness, it is perhaps, above all, an approach that is too simplistic of his work, and the manner of its films made in the United States (such as CRIMSON PEAK ). Hellboy (2004) and its sequel Hellboy 2 : Les Legions d’or cursed (2008) or Pacific Rim (2013), three films that we greatly appreciate for all the creativity that they exude, but none the less limited to a single reading.
Conversely, with The Pan’s Labyrinth, and perhaps more to do with The Spine of the devil (two Spanish films), there was a sub-text of the most relevant. In effect The Spine of the devil is a film WITH a ghost, but behind its main plot, del Toro was a real look on the Spanish civil war (in which is located the film), a malaysian company, on the responsibility of the adult world and whose first victims are the children.
And most importantly we spoke about the role of memory, the importance of not forgetting the events through its realization. “What is a ghost ? A terrible fact condemned to repeat again and again ? “. It is by this sentence non-trivial that the director introduced his work and created, therefore, for the metaphor that will make everything in his film. With CRIMSON PEAK, beyond all the qualities of the film, it remains in a form of first degree. This is mainly reflected in the role eventually, very little of the ghosts – once again the real monsters are humans. Never really active, they have to be new for purpose of preventing the heroin of the dangers to come or tell it where to look for answers, but remain primarily a means for del Toro to give us some stylistic effects (successful of course). One way to create sequences of fear, rather than seek to develop a real connection.
Of course, in spite of our criticisms, CRIMSON PEAK is no less a successful implementation. A captivating plot with a lot of twists and turns. The sets and costumes are excellent (great work of the chief set designer Thomas E. Sanders and the chief costume designer Kate Hawley), marked by the precision and the attention to detail that characterize the director. This is the artistic direction that has to be capable of a variety of styles, but always keep a certain line of conduct in his image (judicious use of colors by director of photography Dan Laustsen). Actors perfect to interpret some of the fascinating characters : the highly sensitive and delicate Mia Wasikowska, the captivating Tom Hiddleston and especially the cold Jessica Chastain. Only Charlie Hungnam (Alan, a childhood friend of Edith) remains relatively recessed. The director manages to plunge us in an atmosphere disturbing, sometimes nightmarish, marked by the confinement, the solitude and especially the vulnerability of Edith.
We think in many ways film Rebecca (1940) Alfred Hitchcock – in which the eponymous novel by Daphne du Maurier was inspired by the director, in the same way as wuthering heights (1939) by William Wyler based on the novel of Emily Brontë, Jane Eyre (1944), directed by Robert Stevenson based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë, or The Castle of the dragon of Anya Seton, including Joseph L. Mankiewicz proposed in 1946 a superb film version. By its general approach del Toro gives CRIMSON PEAK something of these adaptations in the works cited previously. It manages to do is release his film a certain aura, a timeless shape, even after the past, what we greatly appreciate. We regret not to see the director go beyond and offer more depth as we know is capable of great things.
“the most glaucous of the artistic direction I have liked a lot: these walls that ooze blood, this “room of the vats,” the Crimson Peak during the epilogue (fog, atmosphere, mineral, soil, blood).
This way of making the decor not only a pattern cosmetic box, but also a fully-fledged element of the scenario as well as a very subtle revealing of the psychology faulting of the characters… I was very much reminded of the video games Silent Hill 1, 2, 3 & 4. The parentage is not inconceivable, Guillermo Del Toro , who even worked on an episode of the franchise (unfortunately cancelled).
Beyond that, CRIMSON PEAK is the movie the most successful of Del Toro at all technical levels (revival/art direction, staging, directing actors, screenplay) but as said Peter, it may lack a context box.”
THE OTHER OUTPUTS OF THE 14/10/15
+ Decryption of the fascinating character-posters
+ Trailer #1, where how to believe again with a horror racy and deep
+ Trailer #2, where we see the influence of Konami and Capcom, among others
+ Silent Hill cancelled : noooooon ! • Original title : Crimson Peak
• Achievement : Guilermo del Toro
• Scenario : Guilermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins, Lucinda Coxon
• Main actors : Mia Wasikowska , Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
• Country of origin : United States
• Released : 11 November 2015
• Distributor : Universal Pictures International France
• Synopsis : following a family tragedy, a novelist in the grass is torn between the love she bears to his childhood friend and his attraction to a mysterious stranger. So she tries to escape the ghosts of his past, she ventured into a dark, remains oddly human, that breathes, bleeds and remembers.