Crimson Peak Film Review
Perhaps Guillermo Del Toro’s new horror film would’ve worked better as a simple period piece drama. Or at the very least, it should’ve been advertised as such. While Crimson Peak is beautifully composed and drenched in Gothic atmosphere, it suffers from a major problem- it’s not scary.
Fresh off the slab for the Halloween season is a darkened story of love and vengeance. Mia Wasikowska stars as the film’s leading lady Edith Cushing, a young writer who meets and falls in love with charming aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). The two are soon married, and settle at Sharpe’s isolated estate in northern England along with Thomas’s sister Lucille (Jessa Chastain). But nothing at the Sharpe residence is what it seems. Edith finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy stemming from a disturbing past and must find a way to escape. Oh, and there are ghosts in it too.
The world of Crimson Peak is absolutely stunning. From the moment the film began, I knew I was in for a sweet visual treat. Del Toro applies his magic touch by utilizing deep shades of red, blue, green and brown to breathe life into the film. But at the same time he properly uses lighting and dark shadows to convey the elements of horror in Del Toro’s signature, poetic way. Something to also pay attention to is the set design, which is made with great detail and at such a large scale that makes the haunted Sharpe estate seem like an individual character.
While each actor is giving it their all, there are two performances that stand out in my opinion. Hiddleston and Chastain are great as the brother-and-sister duo. Both do a fantastic job at bringing an element of mystery to their characters, as well as plenty of emotion. Wasikowsa is good as the lead, but it’s the Sharpes and the aesthetics that drive the film. Her character doesn’t really have an arch. After her experiences at Crimson Peak, she doesn’t seem to have grown or changed as a person. Or if she did, it isn’t portrayed clearly onscreen.
The meat of the story comes from the romance between Edith and Thomas, and not from the supernatural forces that possess Crimson Peak. So this isn’t a ghost story, but instead is a story which happens to have a ghost in it. And it’s a damn shame because the design of the ghosts are so disturbing and interesting and cool. But they merely serve as plot devices that show up once in a while to both help the main character and remind us that this is supposed to be a horror film. Are there jump scares? A few. Are there moments of building tension and suspense? Yes. But the film can’t survive on looks alone. Del Toro throws so much at you, but unfortunately nothing sticks with you at the end.
What is all comes down to is this: is Crimson Peak scary? Sadly, no. But is it entertaining? To a point, yes. As I said before, the film is more of a visual spectacle than the full-blown scarefest that we were all hoping for. The film is a Gothic romance at heart, and the horror elements are used as a crutch to help it move forward. Despite the substantial amount of the blood portrayed in the film (and its clever relationship with clay), the violence is surprisingly subdued. Crimson Peak is a decent date night flick, Halloween style, but fails to be any sort of masterpiece.
Cosmic Grade: 3.5/5 stars