Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak is haunting and atmospheric, full of rich visuals and ghostly imagery. Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain provide the film with sensual and twisted performances to keep the film engaging and the story from sinking into predictable territories.
Crimson Peak is visionary director Guillermo del Toro‘s big-budget studio horror film that spends more time developing its twisty romance than focus on its plenty ghosts. Crimson Peak isn’t full of jump-scares or frightening images, instead it’s full of thick and chilling atmosphere that makes way for its dark story. It’s the masterful del Toro scaring you on a deeper level and in more ways than one, thanks to his skilled eye and his array of performers (Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain).
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) has always believed in ghosts. She first encountered one shortly after her mother passed and continued to see them throughout her life. They kept warning her of one thing and that is to beware of Crimson Peak.
That meant very little to her until it was all but too late as she falls deeply in love with the questionable Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and abruptly decides to leave America to live with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) at their mansion in England.
Soon, Edith finds out what Crimson Peak really is and why she’s been warned to stay far away from it.
Guillermo del Toro is one of the most gifted visual filmmakers working in the field today. His stories are always a little weird and out there, but he captures them with a visual style that’s both beautiful and fascinating.
And somehow he always seems to get funded to make the crazy and bold movies that he loves, whether it be from a major studio or small division.
He was last seen out-skilling mega-action director Michael Bay with his very own Pacific Rim — a film that reinvents the Hollywood blockbuster in a way that’s smart and exciting.
But del Toro has always had a thing for smaller, atmospheric-based dramas and Crimson Peak is his return to that foray, only with a hefty budget from Universal to go all-out.
Crimson Peak is a film that del Toro has been building to his entire career and now he’s finally able to reveal his vision to the world without any sort of limitations.
For starters, this is an R-rated horror film that spends more time developing its drama, which is mostly a love story, instead of forcing the ghosts and scares on us in a way that could’ve felt superficial.
Del Toro wisely uses the ghosts in the background to help paint a more complete picture, which focuses on the twisted love story between Edith and Thomas and sometimes his odd sister Lucille.
Del Toro isn’t interested in simply scaring us with his ghosts, but instead wants us to focus on the characters and then introduce us to the ghosts when the time is right.
This method works wonders for the film and only makes them that much more disturbing once finally revealed.
The visuals in the film are amazing, soaked in blood red and drenched in style and atmosphere. Everything is dark and ugly, yet you can’t stop looking at how beautiful del Toro makes it all look.
The house that the film primarily takes places in helps give the film its own unique look and feel and becomes a literal character itself. Hearing it creek and watch it fall apart not only helps unravel the film’s central mystery, but also makes way for many creepy scenes.
Mia Wasikowska leads the cast with a performance that’s loaded not with fear, but curiosity. She’s never downright scared of the ghosts and instead wants to learn and discover more. What are their purpose and why do they keep warning her?
Tom Hiddleston gives yet another slimy, yet suave performance as the struggling businessman Thomas Sharpe. He captures Edith’s heart at first sight, yet can’t stop making everyone else squirm in an uncomfortable manner whenever he’s around. There’s just something about him that seems off.
Enter his sister Lucille, a cold and restrained lady that shares in on the mystery with Thomas. Jessica Chastain will definitely frighten you and make you look at her in a new light after this film, because she takes Lucille to such dark places with ease.
The only odd man out in the cast is Charlie Hunnam. Del Toro smartly casts him in a very straight forward role and Hunnam delivers a straight forward performance that’s wooden and out of place among other fine actors that are helping shape this film into something unique.
Hunnam mostly stays away from the film (BEWARE OF HUNNAM’S LACK OF ACTING SKILLS!), which keeps Crimson Peak in the positive.
Crimson Peak may not be del Toro’s best film, but it’s definitely one of his better ones. The visuals are some of his finest yet and the talent that he’s managed to wrangle up help give the film all sorts of new life.
His ghosts are scary and unique and worthy of praise, yet they never take away the focus of the film, which is a rewarding experience that some might find off-putting. I love that Crimson Peak is both a love story and a ghost story, with more focus on the love, but most might find it lacking in terms of general scares.
But don’t let that fool you, because Crimson Peak is still a scary film, just not in a modern sense and more in a traditional one. It has the elegance and class of a period piece, mixed with some blood and sharper edges to help push the story over the edge in ways that are disturbing and dark, but totally something del Toro would do.
Crimson Peak might be del Toro’s best-looking film yet, proving that his craft is only getting better and better. But the story does lose itself at times and comes up rather quickly and in a way that doesn’t shock you as much as you’d expect.
I could guess most of the plot from a mile away, but that didn’t completely ruin my experience and instead help me want to get to that point that I knew was coming.
It’s something that is going to vary drastically on what you’re expecting.
If you’re looking forward to another thick and atmospheric del Toro feature that’s absolutely beautiful to look at and soak in, then Crimson Peak will be for you. It’s full of haunting imagery and enough scares you keep you on your toes, note to mention how well-acted it is.
But if you want something a little more mainstream and suspenseful then you might want to look elsewhere, because Crimson Peak burns at the pace of a candle and that’s totally a compliment, but something most people with little patience won’t appreciate or enjoy.