What is “goth”? Gothic films are draped in black lace, splattered with drops of blood, and wrapped in tight collars, bodices, and flowing fashions of gloom and a bygone day. That’s easy enough to understand, but there’s so much more to it- it’s a style and a fashion and it speaks to a certain sort with poetry and music and things of a slightly strange nature. It’s “Hot Topic” at the mall and that’s just far too bourgeois to be truly Goth. So it’s vampire clubs and Depeche Mode until that becomes cliché and exhausting and then we look to Poe and Blackwood and maybe some Emily Bronte and so on so forth. The truth of the matter is that “goth” isn’t easy to define but very easy to identify- because it’s iconic and you know it when you see it.
Crimson Peak is a Goth Fan’s wet dream.
I don’t want to repeat what I’ve read and heard in other reviews and so I’m a little empty on how to approach the movie from here on out.
This movie is a gothic love-letter to a kind of film we rarely get to see and it’s a virtual feast for the eyes when it is seen. Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labrynth) returns to the “horror” genre with a story that doesn’t share so much with the modern “Paranormal Activity” sort of film, but brings back the ghost stories and creepy castle feel of far older films. This is not his first foray into the realm of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night, and his return has been well worth the wait.
This is the story of a troubled romance between a bookish young woman and an entitled Baronet with a sinister past. This is a story of scandal, violence, family, and an old rotting house on the top of an English peak. Del Toro’s film echoes the sentiment of The House of Usher, the Haunting, Rebecca, and the ghost stories of Algernon Blackwood- but delivers a razor’s edge of violence that simply cuts to the bone with stark visuals. Del Toro doesn’t just let you relax in the cold comfort of creeping spirits- he executes moments of violence that are stunning, brutal, and visceral in detail. When the first death comes it is so sudden and so brutal that it jars the senses.
It’s beautiful, haunting, and totally worth seeing this winter- which may be the only real drawback of the film. Released three weeks before Halloween, the film is much more of a winter’s ghost story and will likely not see the kind of box office it should have seen had it been released on the tail end of Halloween. So if this is the kind of film that interests you then I recommend catching it as soon as you can. It is also a finely tuned niche of a film- audiences who do not enjoy a gothic romance may find the film a little melodramatic at times. It’s a style of filming and acting that is not often seen in this day and age, but I found it refreshing.
4 out of 5.