Disclaimer : Guillermero Del Toro (writer & director of Crimson Peak) is one of my favourite directors and writers of all time, this may skew my opinion of this movie slightly but I will attempt to remain as objective as possible.
After the international success of Pacific Rim, Legendary continue their relationship with visionary direction Guillermero Del Toro with the gothic romance Crimson Peak. Not to be mistaken for a typical Del Toro horror movie, the film has a haunted house vibe combined with a Victorian era romance, with loads of ghostly CGI to keep things interesting, however all of these elements combined just seem to scrape the surface and the film lags in its second half to its detriment.
Crimson Peak follows the story of Edith (Mia Wasikowska), her new husband Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) after the mysterious death of Edith’s father in Buffalo, NY, she is whisked away to their family estate in England, an isolated and barren acreage. The house has a gaping hole in the roof and is literally sinking under this beautiful red liquid that Thomas is trying to mine to make money to repair the house. Edith suspects that Lucille is hiding a dark secret and communicates with the ghosts to uncover the secrets hidden in Crimson Peak before its too late.
At the start of the movie Edith proclaims that she does believe in ghosts, and ghosts are a metaphor for the past. It feels so literal as the movie progresses with the more ghosts that appear, unlocking doors and clues about the history of the manor. It is definitely the stories biggest strength, the rest unfortunately is bogged down in stereotypical romance and suspense, every plot twist was expected, every “surprise” already guessed so it did not really work for me in this sense, but it was clearly offset by the cinematography.
If I wasn’t seeing this at the movies, I would want to see it on the biggest 4K blu ray screen I possibly could, the amount of detail splashed with colours and textures are truly spectacular. I cannot wait to get this on blu ray and gorge on every intricate detail put into the sets and background. The red liquid rises and mixes with the snow outside the house to resemble the after effects of a bloody battle. Inside the house the liquid gushes down the walls giving the house a bleeding effect.
It has been 24 hours since I saw the film and I cannot get it out of my head, upon reflection I have come to the conclusion that we as modern audiences are used to fast paced horror, and I think this is what I was expecting, so when that didn’t happen I initially felt let down. This film will stand as one of those you either love or hate with no grey area. If you enjoy Del Toro’s previous work, you will enjoy this modern take on the Gothic Romance tale, but be warned this is not a horror film by traditional standards, however there is enough blood and gore to push its MA rating to the limit.
Crimson Peak is a clear throwback to the gothic romance while mixing in Del Toro’s mad appetite for horror elements that make his films unique and engaging. All the actor’s bring their A game in this and it shows in an engaging and jump scare journey you won’t soon forget.
Crimson Peak is playing in cinemas now
Review by Alaisdair Dewar