Crimson Peak (2015)
Is it too late to cash in on the Ghostbusters craze? Wait, you mean to tell me that it wasn't a craze? Well, with my home theater finally back in commission, this weeks "dark offering" is a drafty tale of a ghoulish romance that just might paint he peaks blood red.
We start at the end, to flash to the start. Ghosts are totally a real thing, and our main sees them from time to time. The first, she elaborates to us, was actually her mother. After a closed-casket funeral due to the disease that claimed her life, the grieving little miss has quite the spooky encounter that night. With a inky dark figure of her mother (that would do more for giving a small child nightmares than anything helpful) looming behind her, the terrorized child is warned by the ghastly image simply to avoid the Crimson Peak. Time passes, and it seems this event has caused a formative interest in ghosts - and our main has used that interest to pen herself quite the fiction novel.
On the way to get it approved, she runs into an old friend who is quite excited to see her. He invites her to his practice upstairs when she has the time, as he's just gotten it moved in, and she hurries off to get in some last minute revisions to her manuscript before it's time to hand it over. Things go well, and since it's going to be mailed off to get printed, she heads down stairs to get it nice and typed up. It's this event that leads to a rather fateful encounter, with a mysterious stranger in to make a pitch to her father in an attempt to get his project funded back in Britain. He has a great little idea for a clay mining machine, steam-driven, but things don't quite go as he had hoped and it looks as though he's going to be turned down for a fourth time. Still, he seems to have fallen for the main with at least a mild return of the emotion. Things can only escalate from there - yet her father feels something is off about the man, and has someone look into things for him.
The main meets up with her old friend, and they talk some about ghosts - as well as how the friend entertains the idea of being himself a bit of a detective. Unfortunately, when the father gets documents about the would-be mysterious suitor from across the seas he confronts the man and his sister with the intent of making sure they break things off immediately. It would appear that this has prevented problems from happening - until the father is murdered the next morning. A rapid-fire series of events happen and the main finds herself married to the mysterious stranger, and off to his quite decrepit home they go. Something is wrong with this house however, and it appears the living aren't it's only inhabitants. While things slowly escalate, the main discovers something rather important - she has just moved into Crimson Peak.
Ugh, stupid "start at the end and flashback the story" openings! It's a pet peeve, and really the largest complaint I have about this movie (which I guess goes to show it's pretty well constructed). The plot flows relatively decent, and you spend a good time in mystery-mode wondering just who this mysterious guy is, and why him and his sister seem so very strange. As if that isn't enough, then ghosts start compounding to the mystery, and by the end the observant won't have much at all to be left surprised by. Admittedly, the burn is slow here and there are a few moments that will leave you wondering if certain characters aren't somehow invulnerable or at the very least way more durable than a standard human should be.
Attire here is a bit more interesting than the standard modern - what with being much more period-piece and somewhat over-the-top in the gown department. It's that strange balance of "wow that's a beautiful dress" and outright laughing it it's outrageous poofs and frills, but it does help to liven and even class things up a bit - you don't get the impression that most people in this movie are hard-off in the money department. The ghosts are an intriguing mix of deranged humanoid forms mixed with transparency and various degrees of decay - to some amount looking as though it all exists and some of it just becomes invisible for other bits to be seen. It's an interesting look that stands out some from the normal ghosts and phantasms a person might see, but can also be a bit exaggerated at times (super-extended fingers, for example).
Another slightly exaggerated item would be the violence, when it crops up that is. Granted, I'm no doctor, so maybe blood should spurt out like that, but it's sufficiently enough to feel as though it might be a little amped up. For the most part, although there is some stabbings and some head-bashing, I feel like the most graphic things are the ghosts, and part of that could be the varying degrees of see-thru body layers and the fact that many of them are blood red. The audio is well enough balanced, and the cast does a pretty good job at their roles, and for the most part everything comes off rather believable.
Overall, this wasn't quite as frightening as I thought it was supposed to be. Sure, it had ghosts and a jump scare or two, but overall it felt much more as though it was a mystery wanting to be solved then it did this spooky ghost story. Some looking for pure terror may be a bit put off by the heavy romance (particularly in the beginning) but that does bode a bit better for those looking for some scares with more solid characters than a slasher film. Heck, I spent a decent portion of the movie wondering if I was watching some ghost-focused version of Bram Stoker's Dracula for a while - and that's certainly not a bad thing to be compared to in my book.