I’m not really one to enjoy horror movies. I have a far too vivid imagination to risk myself seeing horrific ghost or monster flicks when I know that I will just see everything in my sleep that same night. But what I do enjoy are intelligent horror stories, like The Babadook, or It Follows, ones that aren’t just chuck full of cheap jump scares, and have genuinely disturbing or troubling images and themes that make my spine tingle when I’m excitedly telling everyone to watch it. When I saw Guillermo Del Toro’s The Orphanage, I was left with just those feelings. Same goes for Pan Labyrinth, whilst that is more of a fantasy story, I think we can all agree that THAT ONE CHARACTER shit us all up the first time we saw it. So I know that Del Toro is capable of these intelligent horrors, or at least truly troubling imagery that stick with you, and for that exact reason, I was really excited to see Crimson Peak. That, and it’s fantastic cast, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain (aka, the love of my life) and gothic themes, what is there to go wrong?
Ever since I heard that Richard Ayoade was releasing another film, I was immensely excited. Then I saw that it had TWO Jesse Eisenberg’s in it, and I was even more excited. Then I saw the trailer and I was practically overcome with excitement! And then the day came – where I journeyed to the cinema, with a particularly favourite human, sat in my seat, and finally experienced this glorious movie.
This film is a cinephile’s dream…perhaps. I at least would say so. If you appreciate the technique of film making then you will appreciate the heck out of this movie, just as I did. When I say this, I mean that aspects like the grade, the colours and lighting used through out, (and the lack of it) and the sound makes up a huge majority of what makes this film so enjoyable. It’s a proper treat to the eye. You can tell that a huge amount of thought has gone into the look of the film to create a particular atmosphere. Though it may not be as beautiful as, say, Baz Lurhmann or Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work, it doesn’t mean it is not impressive. It all works hand in hand to create a dark, dank, grimey, claustrophic atmosphere set in a timeless world, or perhaps just in the 60s/70s (I’m bad with my eras but everything looked a little worse for wear) which was all very surreal. Perhaps because it wasn’t presented as a period film, it meant that such old clunky technology aided the surreal atmosphere the Ayoade was aiming for. It’s very peculiar. Many of the machines seen in the film absolutely fascinated me, because I simply had no clue what they were for – I’m not entirely sure even the characters knew! But it served to present a very other-worldy parallel universe to support such a peculiar story.
An aspect I mentioned that I want to expand on really quickly is the use of the sound in this film. The soundtrack is so interesting, and confusing – a lot of the songs use real life sound effects, like buttons pressing, or footsteps on the group, that its very jilting when you realise that the sound is non-diegetic (sound or music that doesn’t exist in the world of the film). As well as this, the music at points builds up to a point where it will simply cut off where another will interrupt and take its place. Its oddly comedic, and awkward – exactly like Richard Ayoade’s style.
Though the character of Simon James is strikingly similar to other characters that Eisenberg is used to playing, the difference in him and his doppleganger James Simon (a clever take on those bastards that have two first names – I will here on accuse them of being the reverse’s evil doppleganger) is a great performance. The difference purely in the body language shows the vast difference in the two’s approach to the world, even though they look exactly the same. It’s really cool to watch. I felt very much at two completely ends of the spectrum when it came to how I felt about the character’s as well – on one hand, with Simon James, I felt very sorry for him – a social reject who is cripplingly awkward when it comes to everything – then we have James Simon who is ironically supposed to be more the likeable and socially apt of the two, yet I absolutely despised him. He is just a complete tool. At first when he is introduced and you know nothing about him, you are kinda rooting for him to be able to change Simon’s life around, but as the story develops, you just end up liking him less and less. Though like I said, Eisenberg’s character(s) are similar to those he has played before but it is an impressing performance none the less. The film has a mixture of recognisable faces, including Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige who played the characters of Oliver and Jordana in Ayoade’s previous feature, Submarine, which I thought was maybe Ayoade paying a homage to his previous work as these characters are fairly minor. I adore pretty much anything that Mia Wasikowska appears in even if the first thing I saw her in was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which was, in my opinion, god awful, but this movie just serves as another that will gradually push her even further into a respectable stardom.
The story is very particular, very interesting and hurts your brain in a wonderful way, though I know that others would disagree. Whilst it would be near impossible to say that this is a bad film, I don’t think that it is a film for a majority of the mainstream audience. I would recommend this more to people who enjoy alternate cinema, who enjoy films that have a narrative that aren’t crystal clear or simple, and have a complex way of telling a story that inspires discussion once the movie is over. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of watching this film, and figuring out what the reality of the situation is, and I think that once I am aware of more people who have watched it, I would love to have discussion about it (if you have any thoughts, feel free to comment below! I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this film). As such a household name in Britain, I feel almost proud when Richard Ayoade releases a film. He is carving himself a very nice little Auteur signature and I can’t wait to see what this wonderful human brings to the table next time round.