Tag Archives: horror movie review

Crimson Peak Review

Crimson Peak

If you’re looking for spooky, look no further than Crimson Peak.

Guillermo Del Toro is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of Hollywood. He’s regarded, rightfully so, as one of the most creative, inventive and visually engaging directors to ever grace the medium. His masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth, won armfuls of accolades, awards, and forever cemented his imaginative place in the world of cinema. The tricky thing about Mr. Del Toro’s career, however, has been his lack of a box office success. The word “decent” is often used to describe his best box office grosses, while flop is used for the rest. What I find interesting is that in light of his middle-of-the-road financial successes he was able to make a film like Crimson Peak. It’s a haunted house film to rival the eeriest of gothic romance tales ever committed to film or otherwise.

The film starts off with Mia Wasikowsa’s Edith Cushing exclaiming that ghost’s are real. She tells of the death of her Mother when she was very young, and the haunted happenings that followed. Her deathly apparition of a Mother appears to her with a warning: Beware Crimson Peak. With an ominous light cast on this Crimson Peak very early on we then jump forward into Edith’s adulthood. She’s an inspiring writer of spooky fiction and gothic romances. Her works are scoffed at as tacky ghost stories, though she reminds her critics that they aren’t ghost stories, they’re stories with ghosts. That’s an extremely important bit to remember, and a line that played over in my mind as a left the theater. I’ll get to it in a second.

CrimsonPeak_1

From there we meet the Sharpe twins, played magnificently by Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. For the viewer it’s clear from the get go that something’s just not right about this two strangers clad in black. The characters in the film seem to share the audiences misgivings, with of course Ms. Cushing being the exception. She falls madly in love and moves to the Sharpe estate in England where the bulk of the film takes place. Once there the creepy happenings pick up the pace and continue on until the end. The ghosts are unsettling to behold, and the atmosphere Del Toro places them in only enhances their spooky factor. Spoiler warning for those who care to remain fresh, but the ghosts are ultimately inconsequential to the plot. The evil of Crimson Peak is not of supernatural origin. The twist and finale of the movie can be seen coming from a mile away and unfolds as we’d assume it would. The plot isn’t really why one would see this film, however. The magic lies in the visuals.

Crimson-Peak-18-Tom-Hiddleston-and-Jessica-Chastain

My biggest problem with Crimson Peak was how little impact these truly exciting and terrifying apparitions had on the story. If you took the ghosts out the plot would remain nearly unaffected. The mystery of the Sharpe twins is uncovered largely without the assistance of anything supernatural. The ghosts are not even integral to the climax of the film, even after their connection to the Sharpes is established. That felt like a huge missed opportunity. Like I mentioned earlier Edith Cushing states that her story is not of ghosts, but rather featuring ghosts. It’s curious to me that Del Toro would tell us what kind of film we’re getting, and that the impact of that line wouldn’t hold it’s full weight until after the credits roll. I guess this is one man’s opinion, but I would have liked to have seen the ghosts have a larger effect on the overall plot.

Guillermo Del Toro has a visual eye unlike any filmmaker I’ve ever seen. Nothing looks like a Del Toro picture. He takes every influence he’s ever had and mashes them together into something that feels truly original. Crimson Peak is no different. It’s dripping with his unique aesthetic. It’s a shame his story telling elements never line up with his visuals. Each English language film he’s done is masterful in it’s design. They look phenomenal. The stories and characters always leave something to be desired, however. These troubles aren’t found in his Spanish language movies. The story and visuals match up and make for really great films. Something about the English language holds Guillermo Del Toro back, and I hold my breath for the day he returns to Spanish cinema and delivers another masterpiece.

Crimson-Peak

At the end of the day I absolutely recommend Crimson Peak. It’s a perfect Halloween film. It’s a perfect film to turn the lights off and behold some spooky happenings. The plot and characters don’t hold up under scrutiny, but if you’re looking for some delicious eye candy, or rather what Del Toro would call eye protein, then watch Crimson Peak. If you like looking at cool stuff then this is the movie for you. Forgive the plot contrivances and weak characters and you’ll have a good time.

The Green Inferno Review

green

There’s something irresistibly primal about cannibalism. The sordid concept has been explored in all forms of media; a tale of terror and woe that has existed as long as mankind has walked this earth. Often used as a means to terrify a populace into obedience, or as a warning to beware the other, the evil just outside the safety of home, cannibalistic stories are a constant. Acclaimed horror director Eli Roth’s latest film The Green Inferno seeks to continue the cannibalistic tradition of films like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. As with those films The Green Inferno boils down to a group of hapless westerners traveling to the Amazon only to wind up in the belly of savages. What sets Roth’s film apart from these other Grindhouse tales is the somewhat mild twist he puts on those destined to be a quick meal.

The movies begins on a college campus. Justine (Lorenza Itto) is a big eyed, idealistic wannabe activist of a freshman who’s woken up by a group of hunger striking protesters just outside her window. While sitting in class (some kind of history/anthropology lecture) she learns about female genital mutilation, which foreshadows the horror to come, and those who perpetrate it in places like the Amazon. Whether spurned on by that, or an attraction to the fellow running the campus activist group she joins up and is shortly thereafter on a plane to the rainforest to stop deforestation and the deaths of indigenous tribes. It’s a nobel enough cause, but the real kick here is how the activists are portrayed. Eli Roth has been vocal in interviews and other media about how he wanted this film to represent a comeuppance for all those internet social justice warriors and slacktivists who hurl themselves at so called “noble” causes without really understanding what they stand for or what they’re getting themselves into. That fact is apparent with how these characters are portrayed, but as with many of these types of people they are ultimately interchangeable. We don’t know these characters. We’re supposed to feel for them, I guess, because they’re in a horrible situation. Unfortunately, because of how Roth set these kids up as hapless wannabe activists, I couldn’t be bothered to care about them because they put themselves into this peril. True, nobody deserves to be eaten or killed in such a brutal fashion, but a quick google search might have alerted these kids to the horrors that await.

green-inferno-1

The team of plucky college kids succeed in disrupting a deforestation company and from there catch a plane ride home. Naturally, the plane crashes and the surviving activists are taken prisoner by a blood red tribe of savages. Their bright crimson skin and bone pierced faces make them look less than human, which I imagine was the point. It doesn’t take too long for each of the characters to be killed and eaten. The first kill, in particular, was fairly disgusting and a treat for the gore hounds out there. A man gets his eyes, tongue, limbs and then head removed with a crude chopping instrument. Unfortunately none of the other kills have a similar level of carnage, so once numbed by the first splash of gore nothing else hits as hard. Once down to the last two victims, Justine escapes and is rescued by the same people she had sabotaged and protested earlier in the film. It’s such a predictable outcome that the irony of the situation is lost. It’s a fairly standard horror plot. Happy, idealistic kids get slaughtered one after the other by a boogeyman, or boogeymen in this instance.

As I mentioned above the first kill in the movie is suitably hardcore. From there nothing holds up to that standard. I’ve seen much nastier, gorier stuff on cable television. Shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Hannibal are all much more visceral and bloody at times. Normally I wouldn’t mention this in a review, as the gore is something that either is, or isn’t and rarely impacts the story. It’s the act that matters. The reason I bring it up is because The Green Inferno is really being sold as an impossible to watch, bring your own barf bag, kind of gore fiesta. It’s not. It really isn’t. The one dimensional characters bored me in the beginning and by the time all hell breaks lose (around 45 minutes in) the film has lost me. If I don’t care about the characters, then dazzle me with special effects madness. The opening credits reveal Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger as the gore wizards behind the madness so I was expecting something extreme. Make it a bloody, gory mess, especially if that’s what you’ve marketed the film as being chalk full of. In the end a lack of interesting characters and lackluster gore makes this film feel empty.

green-inferno

It’s interesting that Eli Roth chose to make the kids in this film the wannabe activist types we see all over Twitter and Facebook. There’s a whole army of people on the internet who think they can change the world with a few clickity clacks of their keyboards, and when thrust into the actual danger become nothing more than pigs for the slaughter. That, for me, is the bright spot in this film. It’s a shame the gore was so disappointing because seeing whiny college activists bite the big one could have been cathartic. There’s a moment in the movie where the character leading this charge tells them they changed nothing. They only delayed the inevitable by a few days. The deforestation crews will resume their work unabated. That’s a more crushing defeat for these kids than being roasted for dinner. They’re so blinded by their allegiance to the cause that I never really felt they held any anger towards their tormentors. In fact, the film ends with Justine telling what I assume are UN lawyers that the tribe was completely peaceful and that all her friends died in the plane crash alone. It’s a misguided, confusing devotion to a cause that she never really had any reason to be hung up on. It fit perfectly with the kind of slacktavists Roth was skewering.

2-the-green-inferno_4

At the end of the day I can’t recommend this. Sure, it had an interesting idea with the college activist thing, but the gore was uninteresting and the college kids were pretty two dimensional. They were faceless hunks of meat before they ever got to the Amazon. I’ve never seen any of the cannibal flicks that inspired this film, so I can’t speak to whether or not this meets those standards, but if those movies were your jam you will probably get some enjoyment out of The Green Inferno. For me, however, it just doesn’t work.