Many superlatives have become overused to the point of becoming nearly meaningless. Awesome. Classic. Legendary. Not among the ranks of the devalued, at least yet, is the word “masterpiece.” When a trailer comes out promising to be a director’s “ultimate masterpiece”–particularly the director of Pan’s Labyrinth–that’s saying something. It’s almost saying too much. More on that in moment.
For now, if you haven’t yet, treat yourself to the classic Gothic glory of Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak.
If the content of the trailer is to be believed, Del Toro is fully committed to the essential Gothic fiction elements. Enormous, architecturally nightmarish manor that might as well be its own character. Secretive, reclusive characters who are elusive about their pasts. Forbidden rooms, attic confinement. Melodrama and romance mixed with the horrific. It hits everything on the checklist.
The quick glimpses we get of the ghosts who presumably met with “specific…violent deaths” in the house present them as effective, if a bit plain. But this is, again, the same man who brought us The Pale Man, who isn’t the most visually mind-blowing monster concept on paper, but Del Toro (and, of course, Doug Jones) brought it to unforgettably unnerving, unnatural life on screen. Why doubt that any of the haunts in Crimson Peak will prove any less chilling?
Even as brilliant as this looks, declaring it Del Toro’s ultimate masterpiece is one hell of a boast. If nothing else that tagline is hedging that this is the best Del Toro’s ever going to do. Ultimate has multiple definitions; as an adjective, all of its definitions express a sense of finality or quintessence. Even if the statement proves accurate, it means that come October 2015 we’ll be witnessing Del Toro’s magnum opus. He’ll never hit the heights of Crimson Peak again. And if it’s wrong? Here’s hoping it’s because the trailer’s claim underestimates Del Toro’s future prowess, not because the film itself underwhelms.