director Guillermo del Toro
viewed: 10/24/2015 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA
I like Guillermo del Toro. I’ve been with him since Cronos (1993) and have seen him craft an interesting career between beautiful art film horror (The Devil’s Backbone (2001) & Pan’s Labyrinth (2005)) and Hollywood science fiction comic book nonsense (Mimic (1997), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Hellboy II (2008), & Pacific Rim (2013).)
Why list all his feature films? Because if you look at his body of work, you can see that he’s gone back and forth with regularity between artsy stuff and more commercial fare. Heck, he might even have another one on his resume by now if he didn’t squander a number of years with Peter Jackson on that Hobbit (2012) monstrosity.
Heck, he’s on Twitter these days, sharing his breadth of passions and facinations. He does his own design work, probably at most well-realized in Pan’s Labyrinth, but I give the guy credit. And double heck, I was probably a total outlier myself because I actually enjoyed Pacific Rim.
Crimson Peak looks fantastic. It’s beautifully designed and shot. Victorian Gothic horror story with lush colors and featuring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain, all very sumptuous themselves in their own ways.
It’s an earnest and devout throwback of a ghost film, hearkening of the days of Hammer horror or classic terrors like The Innocents (1961) or Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963). It’s also an original screenplay, if not the most original of ideas for the story. All of the loving details are all onscreen. Vividly.
But it’s not spectacular. It’s not haunting (to me, at least). It was enjoyable enough, but not the least enthralling. My kids enjoyed it. I liked it. I’m not saying I didn’t like it.
For my money, the best ghost story film of this century has been Alejandro Amenábar’s 2001 film, The Others. There is a film with less showy designs and more creepy creeps.
But I will continue to like del Toro. And I’ll look forward to his next films.