CRIMSON PEAK

Crimson Peak (2015) – Review

Guillermo del Toro himself has to make an exclamation – which his film has already made clear on-screen – that Crimson Peak is not a horror but an excusable Gothic romance. Certainly, there’s a genre confusion, which perhaps becomes its first misfire on his most anticipated post-Pacific Rim work.

Del Toro’s return to a Gothic fantasy root under big studio helmers doesn’t run smoothly, although it does look exquisite. Richly crafted with grand production design and idyllic visual spectacles, Crimson Peak is obviously another love letter to del Toro’s own Spanish-speaking idyll, most notably, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. However, its tendency to style over substance prevents it from being del Toro’s most passionate work to date.

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For a movie, which declines its horror, Crimson Peak neglects some facts that it features abundant elements of gory horror, which convolutes its romance side. The story goes like a young woman, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) – who gets penchant to write a ghost story with love story in it – gets enthralled by a seductive stranger, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and move across the continent to a mysterious house atop a bloody mountain: Crimson Peak.

It takes a while for the movie to settle itself despite being opened in medias res with graphic depiction of Edith. Crimson Peak gets really enticing when it step-by-step unravels a mystery within – stuffing audiences with question to question about the truth beyond the titular place and/or the shadowy past of Thomas and his enigmatic sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain, in a total madness fashion).

The real problem is the story itself—which, surprisingly, bears a lot of resemblance to del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone; the narrative cannot contain del Toro’s wild vision as everything always looks ‘too much’ but the plot. To accommodate the not-so-worthy mystery, Crimson Peak leaves Edith’s early signature as an obsessed writer and turns her as a damsel in distress. Meanwhile, the narrative also subsequently leaves the Sharpes on their own and focuses more on some apparitions, which distracts the intended love story. While the twist is clearly leaked on the run, the prolonged narrative keeps going on as if audiences do not see that coming.

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However, Crimson Peak’s still many splendor things—which unfortunately cannot be connected perfectly by its yielding story-telling device. It was a good drama until the mystery convoluted everything, leaving nothing else to ponder, but never running out of wonders. Mia Wasikowska in a same fashion as she’s in Stoker is a visual candy itself—with her lamenting character, meanwhile Jessica Chastain appears to be an exact opposite to Wasikowska, while Hiddleston only functions as a bait. The tension clinched in the final 30 minutes with a very brutal finale—as a showcase of the movie’s femme fatales.

In the end, Crimson Peak is still a glorified celebration of del Toro’s penchant to visual spectacles, but that alone cannot save it from confusion—whether it’s the genre or it’s the plot. Fortunately, its finale is a great payoff; otherwise it’s just a style-over-substance redundancy.

Crimson Peak (2015)

star2.5crimson-peak-poster

Drama, Fantasy Directed by: Guillermo del Toro Written by: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins Starred by: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam Runtime: 119 mins Rated R

IMDb | Official Site

Scene during credit: No // Post-credit scene: No.


Sang Guillermo del Toro sendiri akhirnya harus membuat pernyataan tegas—meskipun sudah dijelaskan dalam filmnya sendiri—bahwa Crimson Peak bukanlah kisah horror melainkan sebuah romansa Gothic, atau lebih tepatnya, kisah cinta dengan hantu di dalamnya. Dari situ nampak bahwa ada genre confusion yang menandai “ketidak mulusan” karya pertama del Toro pasca Pacific Rim ini.

Comeback del Toro dalam membesut genre favoritnya ini ternyata tak terlalu mulus meskipun nampak glamor dan exquisite. Crimson Peak—dengan production design-nya yang megah serta pesona visualnya yang anggun—nampak menjadi surat cinta del Toro kepada karya-karya berbahasa Spanyol-nya (seperti The Devil’s Backbone dan Pan’s Labyrinth). Namun, kecenderungan style over substance-nya justru menjauhkan film ini dari koleksi film terbaiknya.

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Sebagai film yang sudah menyangkal ke-horror-annya sendiri, Crimson Peak mengesampingkan fakta bahwa filmnya pun menampilkan banyak elemen gory horror dan ghastly horror yang malah mengaburkan esensi romansanya. Cerita Crimson Peak sendiri berpusat pada seorang gadis muda, Edith Cushing (Wasikowska)—yang bermimpi menjadi penulis cerita hantu dengan balutan asmara. Ketertarikannya pada seorang pria misterius, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) membawanya menyeberangi benua untuk hidup bersama kekasihnya di sebuah rumah besar di puncak bukit merah yang disebut Crimson Peak.

Butuh waktu untuk masuk ke bagian inti film yang dibuka secara in medias res ini. Crimson Peak memang tampil menarik ketika step by step mulai menampilkan misterinya—tentang fakta di balik rumah yang disebut Crimson Peak sekaligus masa lalu Thomas serta saudarinya, Lucille (Jessica Chastain yang tampil gila-gilaan).

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Yang jadi masalah sebenarnya adalah kisah Crimson Peak sendiri—yang terlalu mirip dengan The Devil’s Backbone. Narasinya tak mampu menampung keliaran visi del Toro. Bahkan, untuk mengakomodasi misterinya, Crimson Peak menanggalkan signature Edith sebagai penulis dan seketika mengubahnya menjadi seorang damsel in distress. Pada saat yang bersamaan, Crimson Peak juga mengalienasi Sharpe bersaudara dan malah fokus pada beberapa penampakan. Twist-nya pun menjadi tak berarti ketika semuanya sudah mulai terprediksi sedari tengah film; plotnya sengaja dipanjangkan untuk menutupi hal itu, namun penonton cukup cerdas untuk tahu.

Meskipun begitu, Crimson Peak tetaplah gudangnya keindahan visual yang sayangnya tak bisa dirangkai dengan narasi yang lebih ‘wah’. Mia Wasikowska tampil baik meskipun tak semenarik Stoker dan Jessica Chastain adalah lawan seimbang bagi karakter Wasikowska, sementara Hiddleston hanya berperan baik sebagai umpan. Namun semuanya tereskalasi maksimal dalam finale-nya yang dingin dan painful—yang berhasil menjadi slap yang pas sebelum menutup film ini.

Pada akhirnya, Crimson Peak tetap tampil meyakinkan dalam menampilkan visi del Toro dalam visualnya, tapi hal itu tak bisa menyelamatkannya dari keragu-raguan—baik dalam genrenya maupun dalam plotnya. Beruntung finalenya tampil menggelegar, jika tidak, lebih dari 100 menit waktumu terbuang sia-sia untuk karya indah yang mubazir.


This Crimson Peak review is written by Paskalis Damar. Review film Crimson Peak ini diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia juga oleh Paskalis Damar.

2 thoughts on “Crimson Peak (2015) – Review”

  1. I think the more I read a review of this the more I’m inclined to see this! I like Gothic romance and there’s so few of them done in Hollywood. The visuals and the cast appeal to me so you’ve sold me Paskalis!

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