It took me a bit longer than usual to get to Crimson Peak. I am a big del Toro fan, especially the super-fun Hellboy installments, the haunting Pan’s Labyrinth, and the TV series The Strain (based on novels written by del Toro and Chuck Hogan). I’d read mixed reviews of Crimson Peak, and other movies always seemed to take precedent, so I’m a bit late for this one.
Premise: a young woman is swept off her feet by a handsome man and taken to his gothic mansion that sits atop a mountain of red clay. Sinister goings-on reveal a terrible (SPOILER! Lannister-esque) secret and she wonders if she will leave Crimson Peak alive.
I noted that most of the critical reviews of Crimson Peak mentioned that the movie was inaccurately billed as a ghost-centric horror movie but behaves more as a gothic bodice-clutcher.
I agree with that assessment. Stylish and bloody, but not particularly scary. It’s got plenty of tropes, a conventional plot line, and melodramatic woes, but there’s not a disturbing bone in the mix.
Del Toro never fails to deliver a visually stunning film. Crimson Peak is beautiful to watch. The ethereal Wasikowska is lovely and Tom Hiddleston by turns devastatingly handsome and creepy. The costumes are beautiful and the sets intricate and detailed. Del Toro also clearly paid attention to events during the time the story is set, from a cholera epidemic to a Mary Shelley reference.
Despite the eye candy, this movie focuses more on the interpersonal dynamics than the horror elements. I think it would have only taken a few shifts in perspective to make this more of a horror story. One character is slowly poisoned by another, but it almost feels as if the poisoning is an afterthought (not to mention so predictable).
Bottom line: see it for the pretty pictures, but don’t expect to have trouble sleeping.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Guillermo del Toro
starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Huddleston, Charlie Hunnam, and Jessica Chastain