Guillermo del Toro – an excellent director, one of the best really, whose morbid thoughts take various unexpected shapes and forms in his movies. However, in an awkward twist, his latest movie “Crimson Peak” was quite… odd, from a brilliance point of view.
Hang on here, I’ll tell you what I mean. It could be quite possible that Mr. del Toro had a really neat story that he wanted to make but, due to the Producers of this movie, he wasn’t able to pull it off.
Of course, this is just a theory, but hear me out here – it gets interesting.
As a movie maker myself, I always get this question: why don’t you just get a Producer, a guy who throws money at the production, an investor?
The answer is simple – I want to be in full control of my movies. I love hearing suggestions, feedback, but I dislike applying changes to my ideas just because someone else demands so.
Hollywood doesn’t work like that. In Hollywood, if you want to make a movie you go and ask around for money in a respectful and quite usual way. The Producer throws money at you but with one condition – that he has the final word on changes.
Sure there are plenty of situations where the Director’s vision was successful and the Producers backed off, giving him space to work with everything he needed. As far as I understood, Spielberg works like this.
So then why couldn’t del Toro work like this too? I mean, maybe he had a less-than-good movie, it can happen to us all.
Well, here’s where I think something’s fishy.
If you haven’t seen “Crimson Peak” I suggest you stop reading this article as it contains spoilers. You see, del Toro always had a special affection towards the macabre. No image is too strange for him to show.
The sets were absolutely astonishing. I think I haven’t seen anything so beautiful since the Lord of the Rings, it’s quite obvious that the money went into the décor – this so called Crimson Peak, a huge mansion with a unique design.
The story is quite a basic one but presented very nicely, in an almost new manner, making you care for the characters in a way. It’s been a long time since I found myself shouting at the screen “Don’t do that, idiot!” whenever a character was being stupid.
The film really grabs you and the characters are a little bit more 3Dimensional than I’m used to see in Hollywood movies. Knowing del Toro’s other works (Pan’s Labyrinth, Mama, the Orphanage etc.) I was rather surprised of one of the most important points in the movie – its climax.
When you have a strong villain, he/she/it needs a strong defeat.
For Sauron, you had a massive explosion that sent ripples throughout the Black Gate, splitting the Earth in two and swallowing all the evil armies.
For Moriarty (Sherlock spoiler), he blew his own brains out, forcing Sherlock to jump off the roof and fake his suicide in order to save his friends.
For the villain in Crimson Peak… well, it all ends up with two shovel hits over the head. That’s it. Two shovel hits.
It was not disappointing, but rather unsatisfying. When you, as a viewer, want to see justice being served, you want that villain to go through hell before it is vanquished. Again, knowing del Toro’s works, I expected some sort of epic finale considering the build up the movie had.
Yet it all ends rather quickly, inserting even a plot hole that came out of nowhere. At one point the villain becomes able to see ghosts, which has not been established before in the film at all. Are the ghosts redeeming? Do they help in any way vanquish the villain? Nnnnot exactly, so then why show this?
Flawed in the wrong places
The story was good, the setup was brilliant, the ideas were awesome and WELL implemented… so then, what gives?
I strongly think that the guys with the money looked at the film and said something along the lines of: “Too bloody.” Del Toro wouldn’t have shied away from chopping the villain into bits, especially since at one point we were introduced to a machinery that could do something similar AND the final fight scene took place right next to the machine!
I think del Toro wanted to use it in the final confrontation and it would’ve worked so well from a story standpoint. It would’ve delivered the ultimate ending to the villain.
It goes to show you how a movie that is right in all the good places can be ultimately seen as mediocre when it is flawed in all the wrong places.
For those of you who are interested in reading our blog and learning a bit about making a good story, remember this: a villain becomes a great villain when his death balances the evil deeds he has done.
I mean, imagine Scar, from the Lion King… instead of him being torn apart by hyenas and burned alive, he just gets prison-for-life… or something lame like that.
Imagine Darth Vader, instead of grabbing the Emperor and throwing him in an epic way, would’ve just resorted to giving the Emperor a little nudge over the edge.
You see where I’m going with this.
Mr. del Toro, you are a great writer… but don’t let your work be chopped (see what I did there?) by others.
Crimson Peak gets a 7 out of 10 for the design of the sets, the acting and the characters… I’m removing 3 points just for the ending alone.
Thanks for reading!