Movie date: Crimson Peak (NC16)
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
THE SKINNY: Aspiring American author Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) has a whirlwind romance with Englishman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and goes to live with him in England as his wife. But she soon finds herself in a house haunted by tragedy and the ghosts of her own past
Director del Toro has a way of smothering his own movies almost to death.
He has a suffocating presence that strangles the life out of actors and crew.
He seems to think he's a Steven Spielberg or a Tim Burton, but he lacks their wit, humanity and showmanship. He also lacks their touch at the box office - he's never had a big hit.
Like Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak is a plasticky copy of a genuinely cool thing.
Pacific Rim was ersatz Evangelion.
Crimson Peak is a hollowed-out Hammer horror.
Unlike the low-budget haunted house movies from the 50s and 60s - not just Hammer but also iconic indie US filmmaker Roger Corman's stuff - Crimson Peak is no fun and has no flair. It's an utterly humourless affair.
The story is a muddle.
The actors are dull, particularly Wasikowska, who is drab at the best of times.
The production design is gaudy in a bad way.
The CGI ghosts look like, well, CGI ghosts.
Del Toro is a well-respected figure but I just don't get it because I don't think HE gets it.
He's an intense, geeky, hard-working plodder with no feel for the ineffable.
He's a craftsman masquerading as an artist. He bores me to tears.
Except when he unleashed those elves in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Loved those elves.
- JASON JOHNSON
Let's get this out of the way: Female moviegoers will be sorely disappointed that Hiddleston's nude scene has been cut from the local theatrical version to get a lower rating.
That being said, Crimson Peak is still romantic, though the sexy quotient has gone down a tad.
Hiddleston is still dashing and fans can easily imagine being swept off their feet by his courtly English ways.
But it's Chastain who steals the show with her magnetic performance as his sister and the film's antagonist. Proud, masterful and cold-blooded, she makes Wasikowska seem like a lifeless doll in comparison.
Crimson Peak looks absolutely gorgeous, and its images of blood-red clay staining the snowy ground and heroines running down haunted corridors with candles are beautiful and violent at the same time.
Allerdale Hall, the decaying Sharpe family home, is so delightfully decrepit, it will instantly banish all dreams of living in a stately English manor.
As a Gothic horror yarn, Crimson Peak doesn't deliver full-on terror but drips with impending dread.
Del Toro's ghosts are unlikely to enter your nightmares (we had expected more from the director who gave us the chilling Pan's Labyrinth) but the tragic love story did haunt me afterwards.
- LISA TWANG
THE CONSENSUS: Girls won’t be able to resist the combination of Tom Hiddleston and Gothic romance, but the guys will resist all right.
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