31 Nights of Halloween Horror: Part 18 in a 31 part series. Join me for 31 nights of horror reviews in the month of October. Every night we’ll take a look at a different horror film, some old and some new. Tonight we’re talking about:
Dir. Guillermo Del Toro
Originally I wasn’t going to write about this movie, because I read in an interview Del Toro stated this was not a horror movie, it was a gothic romance. I wanted to keep this series based more on horror films. Yes there are some horror elements, but it is not out and out horror. Don’t worry there will be no spoilers in this review, in fact I am barely going to talk about the story of the movie itself. But after catching a viewing of this flick I had to point some things out to my fellow horrorphiles. (Editor’s note: for another take on this film see Maddie’s Echo Base review for Crimson Peak)
OK first things first, as Del Toro himself stated this is not a horror movie, and it most certainly is not. Remember that. There are ghosts in it and they are definitely looking in the more gruesome fashion, but they are all sent more as a warning than to actually seek vengeance or scare anyone. So there is the supernatural element, pardon the pun, alive and well in this film. Yes this is a dark gothic romantic thriller. Get that in your head when you walk in and you won’t be disappointed thinking it is a horror film the way it is being played up in advertising. All I will say about the story, is it is a bit long and carries on at times but it’s really a simple story, nothing new and I am sure you can see the inevitable coming long before it is laid out. Yes some of the dialogue is inane and yes some of the actions of the characters make you scratch your head in disbelief. I am not going to critique the story in this article. I read the script before hand, so there were no surprises for me in this film, I was just waiting for things to happen.
What I want to express most to you in this film is Guillermo Del Toro’s direction. There is no denying Del Toro has made some pretty amazing films. But he has also made some not so amazing films, I know I will get flack for this but, Pacific Rim was a big pile of kaiju shit. Don’t get me wrong, giant robots fighting giant monsters was awesome when it was happening. When it wasn’t happening, the dialogue, the story, the acting, everything was horrible. I would expect much more from Del Toro. Same problem I had with Eli Roth’s Green Inferno, from him I expected more. Well I am here to tell you Del Toro is back and back with a vengeance.
Crimson Peak has a very European feel filtered into an American movie by a Mexican director. Del Toro’s european horror influences are quite apparent in this film, and again not that he directed a horror film, but he took the visual aspects of some of the gothic horror greats and utilized them in this film. Finally someone who is a fan is taking in his influences and using them on screen. There are times it almost felt like you are watching a Mario Bava film with the choice of his color palette. Colors so vivid and offsetting, but completely work with each other. You haven’t seen colors used so successfully in a film since Dario Argento’s Suspiria.
And then there is the violence. Not a lot of it, but when it happens. GOD DAMN! I don’t mean ouch that looks like it hurt, I mean, HOLY SHIT that was fucking brutal and there was no shying away. In Argento’s film Opera there is a scene where the killer is slashing at a teen boy and you see the knife slice through his hand as he tries to block the blows and you see the knife enter from inside the mouth as he is being stabbed in the jaw. Or in Argento’s other film Non Ho Sonno where a character gets bashed in the mouth with the flute. Those were some horribly painful moments to watch. There are two scenes in this movie where you know the violent act is coming but is shown in such a graphic or painful way and it is completely unapologetic. And the best part about it is, you would never expect it in a movie like this which makes it all the more better.
I left the theatre, enjoying the movie more then I thought I would. The story whatever, it was fine, nothing new, long winded. But the direction, the cinematography, the scope. Brilliant. I am not saying this is a movie you need to rush out and see, but if you were on the fence about it you may be pleasantly surprised. Remember, not horror, supernatural gothic thriller with some gruesome CGI ghosts, but amazing direction and some epic scenes of violence intertwined with a long drawn out story. I don’t know man, think what you want of this film, but I saw Bava and Argento written all over it in a good way.