Not all directors hit it out of the park for me every time, but del Toro does. While I didn’t love Hellboy, it was engaging; Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth are exquisitely visualized tales that would make James Cameron blush.
Centered around Edith Cushing’s (Mia Wasikowska) romance with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), the film is a Gothic/Victorian mashup that draws in the family dynamics of Edith and her father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), as well as Sharpe and his sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). Rather than tell you how all of this horror flick plays out, I’ll tell you that the use of the supernatural makes for quite a different tale than the standard “boo” story.
While Edith is sucked into the vortex of the Sharpes, her father and her childhood friend (Charlie Hunnam) try to convince her that something is not quite right. Until a violent death erupts, we can hear the whispers and see the clues but we don’t know eexactly what she is getting herself into. There are terrifying things that go bump in the night… and not just when the story’s Jacob Marleys show up with dire instructions.
Given my love for del Toro, I was nonplussed. It has some of the spectacular looks you’d expect and desire, but the plot unfolds in a way that hits the standards.
Cut off from familial support. Check.
Another relationship threatens the new love. Check.
Hints of darkness that are brushed off or never explained. Check.
Just when it may be that the hero/ine is going mad, reveal a darker evil. Check.
While the film might unfold like we expect it to, it still allows us to see that those touched by evil can still be redeemed and that the warnings of our elders should be considered even if we think they have old-fashioned ideas. Yes, even while it’s not as delicious a del Toro tale as I’d hoped for, it still contains the morality wrapped within a well-packaged thrill.