Crimson Peak And How We’re Watching Movies The Wrong Way


I have a dare for you all – pick a movie, avoid any bit of marketing for it, and go into a screening without letting a single spoiler sway your mindset. A trailer is fine, because interest in said film is obviously a necessity, but it’s so damn freeing when there’s no expectations to be met. Maybe that’s why it’s so much easier to enjoy films at designated festivals, because most entries are being shown publicly for the first time, and some without ANY existing marketing.

Assassination Classroom was just one of the many mysterious victories that found me at Fantastic Fest, as I openly embraced the insanity of student mercenaries who are forced to hunt their alien teacher. Nothing seemed familiar, versus Suicide Squad, which might have people subconsciously saying “we’ve seen this before” during a specific scenes that have already been hastily plastered over every inch of internet real estate.

Here’s the hardest part, which represents one of the biggest hurdles Crimson Peak had to face – don’t let studio marketing drill falsities into your mind. Crimson Peak is a big-budget effort, which means that Legendary Pictures invested A LOT of money into del Toro’s passion project (an estimated $55 million). Returns needed to be met. So, as a businessman/woman, what’d be easier to sell – a Gothic romance told by Guillermo del Toro, or an atmospheric horror movie from the mind behind Pan’s Labyrinth?

Early trailers attempted to wrangle the peak’s most spine-tingling moments in hopes that people would assume terror could be found throughout, but even looking back, you can see del Toro’s camerawork is more about vibrant, big-picture storytelling. Yes, a ghost or skeleton might appear, SUGGESTING horror, but we should be keen on studio tricks, and more importantly, this isn’t del Toro’s fault. Marketing departments have a job to do, and that’s put butts in seats. How do you do that? You give the people what you think they want, while deceitfully manipulating an artist’s true intentions. It’s unfair, but as hard as it is, we must fight holding said trickery against the filmmaker themselves.

So how can I sum up this rant/ramble/stance? Just watch a movie, people. Let it wash over you in waves, without any preconceived notions of what to expect. Let a filmmaker create the movie they want, and don’t ruin your viewing experience by demanding something from an entity you know nothing about. Trailers are trailers, but they’re just a mere glimpse. Use them as a small taste of what’s to come, and don’t be averse to differentiation. Crimson Peak should not be knocked for being mainly romantic, just as Guillermo del Toro shouldn’t be apologizing for going weak on horror. We have to be more accepting of the unknown in order for film to advance, because if not, we’ll receive the same monotone structure over, and over, and over again. Complain enough about a movie not being what you expect, and studios will listen – by giving us expected, generic fodder without a single ounce of ambition.

I may not have loved Crimson Peak, but I’d like to continue seeing films of its creative stature receive the money they deserve. Yet, do we even deserve these charismatic journeys at this point? Apparently we only want cookie-cutter predictability with a skin-tight banana-bulge, and no challenges.

This is why we can’t have nice things, I guess.