Just watched Del Toro’s movie Crimson Peak. It’s got just about every gothic motif going – and sometimes it’s not entirely clear why. It’s all sumptiously staged and filmed – to the extent that it feels a bit stagey. Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain put a lot of effort into the acting – so much, in fact, that it feels overdone and hammy. Hiddleston’s inevitable bum shot is a bit random too. A random hammy bum, Mr Hiddlebum.
But is the movie the ‘botched horror’ that some critics have described? No. Within itself, Crimson Peak is consistent and the narrative thread is coherent – an American heiress is seduced by a lordly philanderer who marries her and takes her back to his gothic mansion in Cumberland, where he inevitably begins to poison her (just as he has poisoned umpteen wives before her) while bullying her into signing over her wealth to him. It very very much reminds me of Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber, just a bit less feminist. Stylistically, there’s a lot of Tim Burton going on as well. None of these things are bad things actually. And it remains camply engaging throughout – in large part because vital information is released in a drip-drip fashion and because Del Toro is a master of the techniques of ‘suspended disbelief’. All in all, then, I’d say this movie has all the ingredients of a cult classic (including Tom Hiddleston’s bum). I’d score it 8 out of 10 – the movie, that is, not Tom Hiddleston’s bum.