Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Solo at the Movies: "Crimson Peak" at Cinemark 18 & XD

While I was deep in the trenches doing editing work on my latest book last month, I missed doing this series. I’ll try to catch up with two movies this month.

I’m issuing a general SPOILER ALERT for this review.

Theater Info:
Cinemark 18 & XD
6081 Center Drive, Los Angeles
Cost: $7.50 for an “early bird” showing (first show of the day, I guess)

Movie Stats:
Released 2015 (USA)
American & Canadian, in English
Director - Guillermo del Toro
Stars - Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam

Plot Summary:
When young, would-be author Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) meets the handsome, charming English baronet Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), she’s swept into a world of mystery and danger. Chastain co-stars as Thomas’s sister, Lucille, and Hunnam as Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael.

Minor blue language; sexy times; brief male nudity (butt only); graphic violence & gore.

Bad Stuff:
My main problem with horror/scary movies is that the characters are often forced to behave in incredibly stupid ways in order to further the plot. While this movie is refreshingly mostly-free of that, I had to wonder why the ghost of Edith’s mother, instead of issuing the vague warning “beware of Crimson Peak,” a name that Edith would never hear from Thomas’s mouth until it was far too late, she couldn’t have said, “hey, marry the hunky doctor who’s clearly in love with you instead of that handsome British guy you’ve known for a hot minute.” I suppose we wouldn’t have had a movie in that case though.

Honestly, the ghosts, as much as I enjoyed them, seemed rather superfluous to the rest of the story. I feel that the character of Edith was smart enough to figure out what was going on without the ghosts’ help.

Hunnam’s accent was so distracting. In his first scene, I was like, “Ah, they’re letting him use his natural accent,” but no, he ended up sounding sort-of-American, sort-of-something else the whole film. I’ve heard him do a passable American accent, so I’m not sure what was up with that.

Good Stuff:
Okay, so they may have been superfluous, but holy crap, those ghosts looked very cool and they were SO creepy. I liked them a lot.

This cast was rock solid. Everyone was extremely good (even Hunnam, if you ignore the accent problem). I was very pleasantly surprised to see Jim Beaver (as Edith’s dad, Carter), who I’ve loved since his days as Bobby on Supernatural, and Burn Gorman (as private investigator Mr. Holly), who cemented his place in my heart when he was Owen on Torchwood. I think the acting gold star probably goes to Chastain, though. She was terrifying.

Visually, it’s stunning.

I loved that the men were so bad at saving Edith that she had to save herself (and Alan). It was quite gratifying.

The Verdict:
As I said, I typically don’t go for scary movies because they tend to be dumb. I was drawn to this one because of Hiddleston, and because it looked pretty (both the cast and the cinematography). Some friends who’d seen it mentioned online that they didn’t find it satisfactory. Perhaps this is why I wasn’t expecting much going in, and why I ended up liking it a lot more than I anticipated. To be sure, it’s not groundbreaking, and it’s fairly cliche. I knew what every plot twist was going to be before it happened. Regardless, it kept me entertained for two hours. I think the cast, and the visuals, really carry it. If it had been done less impeccably, it probably would’ve fallen flat. But it was impeccably done - I expect nothing less from del Toro - and so I rather enjoyed it.

I give it 4 stars.

About Cinemark 18 & XD:
Just off the 405, it’s easy to get to, the parking was easy to find, and that parking wasn’t as expensive as I was expecting, although I was annoyed that I saw no signs anywhere that listed the price (with partial validation, my slightly over 4 hours there cost me $5.00). The theater is quite large, with numerous screens, and for the most part it was clean and nice. However, the employees were rather surly. Also, my particular screening room wasn’t very nice. In fact, there was broken caution tape that had apparently cordoned off one row at one point in time (if the row is now usable, why not remove the tape?) and the seat directly in front of mine (not the same row as the one with the caution tape) was clearly broken, listing to one side. Overall, it was a mostly pleasant experience, but with plenty of nicer theaters closer to me, I doubt I’ll be going back.


Patricia said...

Your take down of Esther's mother's cryptic message had me laughing out loud. Maybe there is some sort of Ghost code we don't know about that means they can only issue vague messages?

Seeing the previews this summer, I thought, "Very pretty, packed with actors I love, but no way, looks way too scary." Reviews from my movie podcasters have commented that they feel it's been packaged wrong--that it's not really a horror/scary film, but a drama with supernatural elements. So maybe I will see it after all. I love Jessica Chastain.

balyien said...

I completely agree with your movie podcasters! It's definitely more of a drama with supernatural elements than it is a horror movie. I didn't think it was remotely scary (creepy in parts for sure).

I think someone a long time ago decided that it takes so much effort for the dead to "pierce the veil" between them and the living that they're incapable of communicating effectively once they get here. Everyone else decided that it sounded plausible, and hence ghosts are always cryptic. In my less charitable moments, I consider it lazy writing. But, as I said in the review, I suppose concessions must occasionally be made, and skepticism held in check, in order to have a story.