Tag Archives: Guillermo Del Toro

Crimson Peak (2015)

crimsonpeak-1I will begin this review of Crimson Peak by being forthright and honest: I am a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro. So it is understandable if you discount everything I am about to say about Crimson Peak as biased (doubly understandable because this is a review after all and the thing is my bias). I will keep all of this brief to avoid spoilage. I am happy to report to you that GdT created a film that almost matches his Spanish-language films. With Crimson Peak, del Toro crafts what may be the go-to-modern-day reference film for anyone who wants to create Gothic horror (or Gothic anything). The film is gorgeous: from the costuming to the set designs to the rich colors that enhance the already fantastic cinematography. Did I mention that the mansion was built on an Austin sound stage, complete with a working elevator? It was indeed. The only complaint that one might lodge against the vision that del Toro creates here, is that is not a movie about ghosts. It is a Gothic tale with ghosts in it in the vein of Bronte or Shelley or Poe. This makes the movie inherently NOT scary to people who hear or read those words. Allow me to put your mind at ease, there are plenty of terrifying things in this film and a lot more going for it than a simple “ghosts want to kill you” story. This is a tale on par with The Devil’s Backbone. This film has everything you could want in a pre-Halloween ghost tale, but I am not going to enumerate on those things. Instead I am going to keep this short and simple (in regards to Crimson Peak), go see the film. The story is one of Gothic simplicity: Girl meets lord of decaying manor, lord and girl fall in love, girl can see ghosts, ghosts are awesome, and this movie is awesome.

crimsonpeak-2What I do want to spend the rest of my time doing is talking about del Toro’s ghosts. It’s Halloween time and I do love ghosts. I especially love del Toro’s ghosts. His ghosts are warnings, and saviors; they are creatures of violence, from violence but not inherently violent in and of themselves. I love that each and every one of his ghosts bleed, and not just to bleed but in a way meaningful to their passing. It makes for some stunning creature design. They have messages to share with those would listen, pleading for justice or begging the seer to save themselves from a horrible plight. They are the past incarnate, as any good ghost should be, and the fact that they are often not heeded, or not heeded in time, is del Toro’s comment on our own inability to learn from the past.

crimsonpeak-3So picture this then: a man stands before you, a moment ago the room you were standing in was empty and the man before was behind you but you sensed his arrival and whirled to face him. He is sopping wet as if he was standing in the rain, though the setting sun is shining through the window and it has not rained in days. You and he are standing in your bedroom as you ready yourself to go out on a friday night, he does not belong here. You look closer, his skin is sagging and sallow and bruised. There is a large gash across his throat. As you watch, blood pours from the wound and floats into the air, swirling around his face and head. You recognize him now as an long missing uncle of some ill-repute. It was thought he skipped town due to gambling debts. You know now that he is or was floating in a river somewhere, throat cut. He reaches out to you, his lips moving. No sound. His hand reaches to his throat and then into the wound. He pinches the windpipe together. Words flow now. Here is his warning to you: don’t miss this film. Go see it in theaters, the way it was meant to be seen. Bring your friends, your loved ones, and your families to theater this weekend. Support this innovative filmmaker and show Hollywood that you want films that are genuinely scary and unnerving to be released every October, not just Saw or Paranormal Activity sequels. Go see Crimson Peak. Go see the ghosts and enjoy the madness.

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Why Big Budget Horror Can Exist

whybigbudgethorrorcanexist-1Director Guillermo Del Toro has a vision. It is a vision of a doomed expedition to the Antarctic, one filled with horror and death and hopelessness in the face of cosmic forces that no mortal could ever hope to understand, much less overcome. In 2006 this project was pitched as a multi-million dollar R-rated tentpole horror film, a thing almost unheard of in Hollywood these days, unfortunately Warner Bros passed on the project. Then in 2011, Universal stepped in. James Cameron offered to produce the film and help convert it to 3D, and Tom Cruise was set to star. Add a summer release and it seemed all but guaranteed that GdT could kick start a new golden age of big budget horror. It might have, but the project was nixed at the last minute when Universal got cold feet. The reason? That sort of tentpole could not, would not be profitable. No way. No how.

whybigbudgethorrorcanexist-3That was then, though, and this is now. There is hope, hope that this movie can be made after all. Especially since Prometheus (the film that GdT thought would steal his Lovecraftian thunder) failed to address the themes of the film he had proposed. Where is the proof, you might ask? Well this summer a horror movie, aimed at adults, released. Ostentatiously it was a reboot of a beloved series, one whose theme music never fails to raise goosebumps, but what was Jurassic World really? It was a horror movie, a vicious bit of filmmaking that thrilled and terrified audiences. What’s that you say? Jurassic World was not a horror film? Watch it again. It had everything a decent to good horror movie should have, including a scene where a poor assistant is pulled and plucked apart by pterodactyls prior to being swallowed by a giant underwater monster. Yes, Jurassic World is a tentpole horror film, one that to date has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. So what does that tell us? It tells us that the world is more than ready for a film like At the Mountains of Madness. Audiences want and are ready to spend their money on a big budget R-rated horror film, one packed with action and death and destruction. One filled with cosmic horror and an admittedly bleak ending.

whybigbudgethorrorcanexist-2My hope is that Jurassic World could kickstart AtMoM into existence, and from there we could have summer after summer of big budget, high concept horror films. The more we the fans support such ideas the more we can get. It started with Jurassic World, it will continue with Crimson Peak (if that movie has legs, and it should, it could almost guarantee AtMoM’s existence) but really it comes down to us fans. We need to show up. We need to do what we did for Jurassic World. We need to put our money where our mouths are. It’s the only way that we will get truly original and interesting big budget horror films to become regular events, not a rarity in the Hollywood landscape.