Tom Hiddleston seems to be in several movies that strike the 90s nostalgia of yester goth, but he is not the focus of our review today. Even if his booty is super nice to look at in a dark cinema where no one can judge your shamelessness. I tried not to give away anything, but there might still be a few sneaky spoilers.
Visually, this movie is eye candy for the goth child. There was a surprising amount of tiny details that added to the scenes and never left the movie feeling heavy with wasteful aesthetics, like oh I don’t know….Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby. I’m not overly familiar with this director, so forgive me for not knowing his trademarks. I’m roaming through this movie like every part of it is very new to me. There was a nice play in contrast whenever deep black and stark white were both in a scene together. The greatest example of this was at the beginning of the movie where the whole screen was full of people dressed in black (an impressive soul sucking black, mind you) and surrounded by white snow. I want it on a poster. Another example would be the color of costumes being used to heighten character personalities and reinforce their place in the story. The manipulation of light was used frequently, in a way where I feel like that might be Guillermo del Toro’s trademark, I’m not sure. I feel like the way it was manipulated differently in each scene was not predictable (as in they weren’t repeating the same trick over and over again, like hey focus over here) and for the most part it added to the story in subtle ways. There were two major violent scenes I had to look away for. I didn’t expect the director to be that unforgiving in how much they showed, but with a story like this, I suppose it is best to let it all hang out. If you also don’t like gory things, there is enough time to process what’s about to happen and look away. Neither scene was so bad that they forced you to witness something so terrible, even if it is pretend.
Character wise, it’s mostly classic Goth archetypes featured in old school literature. This might detract from the story for some people, but it was nice to have something familiar in the film. Strong but naive female who interacts with the obviously dark and shady monsters in people’s clothing, and protective male figures who respect that female character as a person, something that didn’t happen all too often in the time period. The degree to which these archetypes were used kind of reminds of the characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Del Toro made the characters believable and essentially relatable, there were smudges on Edith’s face from ink because she’s writing her stories by hand, her endless curiosity was established long before it became key to the plot and so on. There was one part where I didn’t feel the change in a particular character was depicted strongly enough. I was kind of like, I only know this information because it’s obvious plot wise, not because they showed me the change. I don’t think it’s the actor’s fault, it might be more there was a huge emotional shift in the story and that minute aspect wasn’t given the intensity it deserved. I give the acting 8.5 out of 10.
Small side note: there was a scene of grieving I don’t normally see in films. Most “reaction to death” scenes favor silence or huge waves of sorrow and shock, but this scene. Oh, it struck me at the core. There was a brief delirium, an inability to process the information and it was done so well, I actually cried. I felt that glimpse was so real and I doubt I will ever get over it.
End of Spoiler
The story is..intense. People were complaining that the movie was beginning to hit that over advertised point, for instance Instagram was flooded with stuff or at least mine was. But then I saw the movie and I’m like, okay, I’m okay with how they toyed with my emotions and patience. There were delightful metaphors that echoed with today’s societal issues, and one in particular I see becoming a goth patch or a Tumblr post. There were a few weak parts that made me wonder why it was there, but nothing was so grand to ruin the story completely. I can’t go into detail because that’s not nice for people who haven’t seen it yet and it probably is just a personal issue for me. I wouldn’t say it was a straight forward beginning, middle and end la la gothic fiction. There was a lot of weaving with character backgrounds which I thought was artfully done because it didn’t conflict with the actual story. (Sometimes people want all kinds of madness in their stories and weigh it down because all of those stories have to be introduced and referenced…it can get messy.) I think the only thing I can say really about the story is it is a lot more than I was expecting, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect. It will make a nice addition to the recent works of this Nouveau Goth movie business, like Only Lovers Left Alive and What We Do in the Shadows. Take notes goth kids, the era really is changing.
Overall, I loved it. It was a pleasure to watch, with the exception of the two times I hid behind my friend, and I will most likely get it when it comes out. It’s the right thing to do.
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Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels