November 2, 2015
So this is about a plucky blond writer in glasses who falls for Tom Hiddleston, so it automatically has to be great, right?
Crimson Peak was a fine over-the-top visual costume extravaganza thing, as one would expect from this director. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the “Is it Horror/Is it Gothic” debate that was raging in various circles when it came out. Because a thing can certainly be both, and I think this is. I’ve tried to warn people who are thinking this is little-r romance (you know, two people get together and are happy, as opposed to big-R Romance, i.e. early 19th century trope-driven melodrama) that there is really precious little to warm the heart here. It’s just plain gruesome enough in a places that I shut my eyes at least once.
But overall it’s very pretty, and very trope-laden, in a self aware way that I appreciated. Much of the theater laughed at parts that I think we were supposed to laugh at, even though they weren’t ostensibly funny. I admired some very elegant misdirection — i.e. one character handles a straight razor for a full two minutes of screen time, and the straight razor never actually cuts anyone. That sort of thing happens a few times throughout. On the other hand, the story unfolds in a rather matter-of-fact way. (BIG FAT SPOILER: Like, when Thomas enters the party with Edith and then kisses Lucille on the cheek while Lucille is staring daggers at Edith, I’m all, Thomas and Lucille are totally, totally sleeping together. Like, constantly. And I was right.) END SPOILERS.
I mostly left the film wondering how much fabric it really takes to make those giant muttonchop sleeves on late Victorian gowns.