No Spoilers (Promise!)
On a scale from "Burn it in the back and never speak of it again" to "Build a museum for its awesomeness," I put it around "I don't know what's happening in Guillermo del Toro's mind, but I like it!"
I'm not sure whether to say it's a horror movie with a gothic romance or a gothic romance with horror. And I'm not sure whether or not I should be ticked about that. Because I don't like romantic subplots (or a romantic plot with a horror subplot?), especially not gothic ones. It's been done. It's full of tropes and cliches. Good girl falls for the bad boy. Father disapproves of bad boy. The women are portrayed as weak, fragile beings who swoon and faint because it's set in the Victorian era.
On the other hand, Tom Hiddleston plays the bad boy named Thomas (the poor guy's gonna get type-cast as an untrustworthy scoundrel with a British accent). And while there are obvious gender roles and limitations (as I said, Victorian era), the last twenty minutes completely debunks it when the female lead Edith stops being an idiot and grows a pair and confronts Thomas's sister Lucille.
It is a very good movie, if you know what to expect. We see a ghost in the opening (Edith's mother, and it's pretty freaky), then there's 45 minutes of plot build-up and gothic romance and background (and everyone in the theater is like, "Come on, come one, show us another ghost, dammit!"), and then Edith's father's face gets smashed in and they move to Britain. Then you see more ghosts. And they freak you out.
So if you haven't already seen the movie, I encourage you to do so. If you have (and I suspect most of you have because this review is so late because I only saw it last weekend due to school and life getting in the way), then encourage those who haven't. Because it's Guillermo del Toro and Tom Hiddleston in a ghost movie.
Spoilers (Like, All of Them)
Del Toro's been watching too much Game of Thrones. Because Thomas and Lucille? The siblings? Yeah, they're banging. You see the fact that they're in a (dysfunctional) relationship a mile away (it's not really subtle), but the fact that they were not, in fact, lying about being siblings...yeah. In fact, Thomas's whole sex life has been Lucille since puberty, then one night with Edith, then he gets killed.
But let's backtrack. If Thomas is with (an obsessive, controlling) Lucille, why is he marrying Edith? Obvious answer: money.
The siblings barely have a penny to their name, even though their land is on a ton of clay that they want to mine and sell. The house is falling apart, no one's financing the mining project, Lucille's a psychopath (no, seriously, a psychopath, that's not me doing distasteful name-calling), so, yeah. They're in a tough spot. So they devise two plans to get more money.
Plan A: look for a sponsor. Perfectly legal, totally legit. Thomas shows his clay-mining machine to a bunch of rich guys and hopes someone will give him money to run it. That fails, so...
Plan B: marry a rich girl, legally own everything she has, kill her. Then throw her body in the blood-colored clay so her ghost becomes all red and smoky.
Sorry, bad picture. But you can see how the ghosts of the women whose bodies were thrown in the red clay affects how they look. Edith's mom died of disease and her ghosts is black.
So Thomas has had three other wives before Edith from all over the world, and they're either killed by Lucille, or by Thomas who's completely F-ed up by Lucille.
One of the scariest parts of the movie is when Edith is digging through the old photographs and records of the wives and listening to the recordings left by one of them, and the recording says, "They're killing me. The poison's in the tea. It's in the tea!"
And because they're British, the only thing they drink is tea.
Meanwhile the ghosts are being all freaky and scary but are actually harmless. They can only guide and scare you. They're not the bad guys. So it's not a ghost story, per se. It's a horror movie that happens to have ghosts in it (not unlike Edith's book she's trying to publish; hey, look, a metaphor!).
It also has a giant clay-mining machine that's scary and grinding and all throughout the movie you think "Someone's gonna die in that thing." But no. When Edith does kill Lucille in the end, it's with a good old-fashioned shovel.
That after's Lucille kills Thomas (who tries to tell Lucille, "Hey, you know what, let's not kill the woman I've fallen in love with to steal her money and instead leave this haunted house where we killed our mom and three other women?"). And she kills him by stabbing him in the face.
Do you know how deranged you have to be to stab stomone in the f***ing face? It's nauseating to do that even on a dummy. They've done studies, people! This karate class taught its students a lethal move where you drive your thumb through the victim's eye into their brain, and they had them practice on people who held oranges to their eyes and pretended that it hurt and everything, and the students were f***ing traumatized! Deranged, I tell you! Deranged!
Yeah, I'm convinced now. Del Toro, stop watching Game of Thrones. It's making me worry about you, even if it did influence a damn good movie.
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