- Boskone — Boston February 17th-19th
- Helsinki Worldcon Agust 9th - 13th
- Bubonicon August 25th-27th, Albuquerque, NM
Oh, dear. Where to start. First the good. Tom Hiddleston is so handsome and so charming and such a good actor. He can do more with a look then many actors can manage with a half page soliloquy. He also dances beautifully. yes, Tom I’ll waltz with you anytime and he’s in this film a lot.
Then there’s the rest —
You have been warned. I said to a friend this morning this movie felt like a Daphne du Maurier novel from the 1930’s. Nothing wrong with that. I read and enjoyed her novels back in the day, but it’s a kind of story telling that seems very naive to us today. It’s was directed by Del Toro so it was visually gorgeous, but the story felt trite and rather empty.
I had been worried about seeing the film because I’m a big wuss and I don’t handle horror well. There is nothing horrific here. Del Toro tries for tension with sudden sounds, but it didn’t even get a jump out of me much less ramp up the tension. Jessica Chastain is appropriately creepy as the overly clingy sister to the degenerate English noble played to perfection by Hiddleston. Mia Wasikowska is appropriately fragile and innocent as the young bride brought to the brooding mansion in England, but it all felt so familiar.
The one nice change was that you ultimately discover that the ghosts — as horrific as they might look — are actually trying to help young Edith. I did wonder why after you’re dead you don’t just come back to haunt in a form that makes you happy. Why do you have to be a blood drenched skeleton? Is there some rule at ghost central that you have to be a horror?
Ultimately you discover that the brother and sister were horribly abused by their parents (which you had figured out almost right away especially when you saw the hideous portrait of mommy dearest). The older sister is the leader in this Folie à deux to try and make Hiddleston less horrific. Probably a good choice since the actor is so appealing, but you can’t get around the fact that he married three women for money and then let his sister poison them.
Of course the big shocking revelation is that the brother and sister have been having sexy time with each other. Another thing which was telegraphed from the first moment at the ball. And really folks, after Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones can sibling incest really be shocking?
There is, of course, the stalwart young American lover who lost Edith to the degenerate baronet played by Charlie Hunnam doing a truly terrible American accent. The character is also too dumb to live. He literally walks through the snow to rescue his lady after discovering the baronets previous marriages, and the horrific death of the mother and he doesn’t bring a gun. He fails utterly to rescue Edith and instead gets stabbed but not killed.
Edith survives a fall from a balcony that seems to leave her with nothing more then a sprained ankle which shows up intermittently as Edith engages in a knife/shovel fight with crazy sister. It was a pleasant change that the burly hero doesn’t rescue his lady love. Instead she rescues him, but it wasn’t enough to save this movie.
At one point I leaned over to my friend Stephen Boucher and said “If Hiddleston weren’t so pretty I’d leave because this is boring.” So no, if you are a wimp about horror films don’t worry about this one. It’s not scary. It you happen to have a crush on any of the actors then go and enjoy.