Crimson Peak

A good horror film generates effective atmosphere.  It shouldn’t rely on CGI pyrotechnics for scares but create the illusion of looming terror.  Those who have done so have lasted the distance.  ‘Crimson Peak’ mostly fits this bill.  Helmed by renowned fantasy director Guillermo del Toro, it adds another bright creative mark on his cinematic ledger.  Crafting an enduringly chilling mood, this gothic horror confection has plenty of spooky substance within its stylishly frightful vistas.


Moving into an old mansion in the late 19th Century, newlyweds Edith (Mia Wasikowska) and Sir Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) seem a good match.  Although having a sense of foreboding about her new residence, Edith tries to settle in.  When meeting Sir Thomas’s sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) Edith soon realises all is not as it seems. With the help of friend Dr. Alan (Charlie Hunnam), Edith discovers a terror-filled house whose secrets her new husband tries to protect at their peril.


Crimson Peak’ finds del Toro in his indulgent element.  This isn’t a bad thing as his dark visuals always sparkle.  Whilst the meandering story is somewhat predictable with certain ghost-story motifs evident, ‘Crimson Peak’ is never less than an eye-catching experience.  Perhaps this is the point as del Toro’s direction occasionally sidelines the plot in favour of showing off his amazingly rendered sets.  This makes it difficult to remain involved in his character’s actions although one can’t deny del Toro’s gifted film-making techniques.


The production design enlivens the performances.  Of the main trio, Chastain stands out with her sinister role hitting the right note.  She acts well against the CGI which thankfully isn’t over-used.  ‘Crimson Peak’ exists for the experience and look rather dazzling CGI, even if it’s top-notch.  The period setting successfully adds to the flavour of mystery and suspense.  The costumers go all out in providing great outfits for everyone to wear with the music score aiding the conjuring of the era.


Although the story isn’t anything remarkable, ‘Crimson Peak’ is undeniably a visual treat.  Managing some genuine scares amidst its bleakly gothic trappings, it mostly achieves a horror film’s aims in staying with you long after the lights come up.


Rating out of 10:  6



In the 1950’s and ‘60’s Ronnie and Reggie Kray ruled the London underworld with an iron fist.  Their ‘legendary’ status turned them into anti-heroes.  Even today their fame has spread via books, TV and film.  Some may recall the 1990 movie featuring the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet as the dastardly duo.  ‘Legend’ covers much of the same ground without impact.  Whilst competently made, it fails to have the gritty fire such a biopic on tough criminals should.


Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy) have turned into one of London’s feared gangsters.  Owning several establishments by which to fund their illegal activities, all seems to go well.  All soon comes unstuck due to Ronnie’s unstable nature.  A loose cannon of the highest order, nothing stops his deranged behaviour.  When Reggie meets local girl Frances (Emily Browning) matters become worse, much to the delight of pursuing detective Leonard Read (Christopher Eccleston).


‘Legend’ isn’t a bad movie but it isn’t a memorable one either.  Much of the fault lies in its direction.  Under the gaze of director Brian Helgeland, ‘Legend’ frequently stops at a standstill.  Whilst occasional flashes of raw energy are seen, ‘Legend’ plays almost like a romantic film as it mostly concentrates on Reggie’s relationship with Frances.  When focussing on his bond with Ronnie, ‘Legend’ becomes more interesting, as is the addictive allure of crime which Reggie can’t escape.


Everything would have failed had it not been for Hardy’s performance.  Whilst the Krays are depicted more as caricatures than authentic people, Hardy provides much fiery flair.  He successfully ensures his dual roles are seen as separate entities.  This goes in some way to compensate for the somewhat fanciful nature of the script with the mix of humour and drama not working.  The production design and soundtrack as suitably catchy but ‘Legend’ is a generally hit and miss affair.


Crime may well never pay but it ensures fame, or infamy, will endure.  Countless hours of films have been spent examining the Krays over the decades although ‘Legend’ is a more forgettable effort despite the talents of its strong lead.


Rating out of 10:  5