Sue wanted to know if Glynn and I were doing anything special this week, so I told her, “We’re seeing Crimson Peak.” I said this excitedly.
She said, “Ah,” in that kind of significant way, where there’s some hidden thought lingering behind the sound. I soon discovered that she’d already seen the movie. She was there when it opened. She said the theater was packed, the crowd was excited, it was exactly the perfect setting for a big budget flick. I asked her what she thought of the picture.
Sue said, “Meh.”
“I wanted it to be something else," she told me. "But you love these gothic things. You’ll probably love this one, too.”
I hoped she was right. Glynn follows Hollywood production stuff – he’s a man of many interests – well, that’s not exactly right, he’s a man of primarily five interests, but Hollywood's movie industry is one of them – and when he told me Guillermo del Toro was making a gothic ghost story, starring Tom Hiddleston, I immediately told my sweetie we were going to see it. Not as a Redbox rental, not on Netflix, but in a real theater. There was to be no doubt about this.
How could we not see it? Guillermo del Toro directed Pan’s Labyrinth (it’s in Spanish, with subtitles, and if you like horror pictures but haven’t watched it yet, you should watch it soon) and Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (both in English, Spanish subtitles available, and if you like superhero pictures but haven’t watched these two yet, you should watch them soon). Plus the lead actor was Tom Hiddleston, the best and sexiest Loki there has ever been, adorable in real life…if I can trust what I’ve seen on YouTube, and I suspect I can…and a man who appears to have been born to be the star of a gothic ghost story.
(If you're wondering, no, I don’t know if anyone else has ever played Loki. Nor do I care.)
For me, Crimson Peak was going to be THE movie of 2015. Now that I’ve bought my tickets, put aside my writing, and shushed the loudmouth sitting one row in front of me, I can tell you, Tom H. is as good as I’d hoped.
But the co-writer/director of the thing? Guillermo, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.
I didn’t care that CP’s running time was a little long. Yes, the movie moved slowly, but I could deal with that. It gave me more time to enjoy the sights unfolding in front of me. There was no chemistry between the two leads, which I completely blame on the lead actress because Tom Hiddleston. I was willing to accept that, too. The setting was wonderful and the visuals were amazing. But the story?
The story was sacrificed for those amazing visuals. I’ve promised NO SPOILERS, so I’ll stick to that, but about fifteen minutes into the film, a character said something that sounded cool but didn't make much sense.
I whispered to Glynn, “What she just said is nonsense. Isn't it?”
“Try to enjoy it,” he whispered back.
But then something else a little off happened. The setting – gorgeous – made me shake my head. Not later, but at almost the moment of introduction. The lead character’s motivation is suspect. (What was the price of clay in Victorian England, anyway? It’s an important plot point but I’d wager the two screenwriters never checked.) Occasionally, the movie's characters abandoned logic for dramatic effect. Other times, logic was sacrificed for visual effect.
The story didn’t hold.
As a writer, I believe story is paramount. As a reader, I think the same thing. As a movie-goer, I had Tom Hiddleston to distract me…and, to my surprise, he wasn’t enough.
What did you think?