Review: Crimson Peak Is Visually Stunning But A Little Light On Story
Title: Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenwriter: Guillermo del Toro (written by) and Matthew Robbins (written by)
Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, and Burn Gorman
Summary: In the aftermath a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds, …and remembers.
I do my very best not to get hyped for movies anymore. As I’ve said in the past, I’ve found that I tend to enjoy films a lot more if I go in not expecting anything. However, I wouldn’t be a film critic if I wasn’t a fan of film, and sometimes I just can’t help but get hyped for a project. I do my best to not cloud my judgment of a final product but we all have our bias’ and things that we enjoy. One of the movies that I’ve been looking forward to since the moment it was announced is Crimson Peak. I’m already a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro, but when the cast was announced and few set pictures leaked I couldn’t have been more pumped. I also knew that a movie with horror elements that is rated R is a risk and this did not look like a cheap production. A misfire could be terrible for all involved and I had my fingers crossed.
Crimson Peak is one of the most visually beautiful movies I’ve ever seen with great effects, masterful set designs and great costumes combined with foreboding atmosphere and great performances by the entire cast.
When I say that this movie is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen this year I mean that with little hyperbole. Director and writer Guillermo del Toro has always had an eye for lovely looking movies and this one really lets him spread his wings. del Toro is very familiar with the horror genre and I feel like a lot of people are going to liken this to his previous work, Pan’s Labyrinth, in that they are movies with horror elements and horror moments but not a horror movie. Crimson Peak is, at its heart, a gothic romance and a mystery. Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) must solve the mystery of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), his sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain) and their house that seems to have a life all to itself. To make matters worse Edith can see ghosts and it seems the house has a dark past.
The marketing for this movie have been presenting it as a horror movie and there are plenty of horror moments. The ghost themselves are wonderfully creepy looking and del Toro doesn’t even entirely rely on CGI for them. Anyone in the horror genre, and familiar with del Toro’s work, will be glad to see Doug Jones on board to bring some life (pun intended) to the various ghosts that Edith sees throughout the production. There are jump scares and great tension, but the horror moments are there to move the story along and not be the center of it. The ghosts and the atmosphere will stay with you but it probably won’t give you nightmares.
The story is very interesting even if I could see the final twist coming about a mile away. I’m not going to spoil it, but if you’re paying attention you’ll probably figure it out, too. However, everything else around that story is so good that you often forget that it’s a little predictable. The performances also draw you in and are excellent across the board. Wasikowska doesn’t do a lot of mainstream movies anymore, she seems to prefer indies, but she’s perfect for someone like Edith who is wise beyond her years, yet still naïve. Hiddleston could play someone charming but mysterious in his sleep at this point, but fans of his turn as Loki will probably find his Thomas Sharpe to be much more downplayed. Chastain was the standout for me for reasons I can’t entirely get into but I want to see her in more roles like this one. She absolutely steals the show in every single scene she’s in. Charlie Hunnam doesn’t get that much to do as the shy Alan but the movie never implies that Edith should be with him just because he has feelings for her.
Crimson Peak is the perfect movie for mid October. It’s not the slasher or monster movie that we often get at this time of year but a beautiful and entertaining gothic romance that is going to take your breath away. I saw this movie nearly five days ago and it’s still staying with me. The more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve liked it and it’s probably going to end up in my top ten for the year. If you’re looking for a great October movie don’t miss this one.