'Crimson Peak' - Movie Review
'Crimson Peak' is haunting but not quite horrifying, and ace creative genius, director Guillermo Del Toro, seems to want it just that way. Heavy on atmosphere and feebly enervating dread, this visually haunting haunted house movie romanticises eerie instead of giving it a scary edge
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
It's haunting but not quite horrifying, and ace creative genius, director Guillermo Del Toro, seems to want it just that way. Heavy on atmosphere and feebly enervating dread, this visually haunting haunted house movie romanticises eerie instead of giving it a scary edge. So, genre fixers are going to find it just a little off-the-wall.
Del Toro doesn't appear to be apologetic of that fact. In fact he weaves a wondrous legend with able scripting help from Mathew Robbins and Lucinda Coxon that delves deeply into the haunted mind territory, mining its unheralded cobwebby darkest corners for some visionary detailing.
It's indulgent no doubt, allowing for thinly veiled literary and cinematic referencing combined with demented, costumed dramatics, bed-rocked on the theme of the female being more twisted and lethal than the male. Comfortably switching gears from spectacle laded 'Pacific Rim' to a much bloodier, kooky production design driven extravagance, Del Toro immerses you in his emblematic search for spooks.
Watch the trailer of 'Crimson Peak'
Here Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the jittery central protagonist, has to fear much more from the living than the dead. Set in the turn-of-the-century, Buffalo, New York, Edith is set apart from the norm of husband hunting bachelorettes by her involvement in creating fiction-inventing and writing tales about the supernatural. A skeptic towards romance (she does believe in ghosts though), she doesn't pay much heed to a wraith's warning “Beware of Crimson Peak”. After nearly an hour of procrastinating with mood, tone, exposition and atmosphere, Del Toro lands her in the crumbling British mansion located atop a hillock of blood red clay.
Edith finds herself in the midst of two differently alluring men, hardy local doc Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and British baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who has a sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) is not quite amused by her brother's amour- a clear giveaway that something's not quite right in the sibling relationship. Sharpe marries Edith, interested as he is in her money, and against the wishes of her father (Jim Beaver), whisking her away to Crimson Peak. But romance alone is not the end game here.
The snow bleeds scarlet, the atmosphere is heavy and dense, the style is vividly gothic and the tone - not quite altogether clear-cut. Heavily laden with symbolism and awash with flaming colours as to be almost ravishing, this haunting is so romantic in nature that you'll come out of it dazzled rather than daunted. There appears to be something missing yet it's so stunningly visual that you probably wouldn't want to know what.
Dan Lausten's unflinching camerawork, Fernando Velazquez's haunting score, Tom Sanders' amazing production design, and near perfect set design, costumes and art design make the experience delightfully intoxicating, yet it's short on scares. This one is far more entrenched in romance than in grisly generic horror staples.
Del Toro's brilliance is unquestionable but his talent doesn't always come through with a completely credible experience. This one is somewhere close to brilliant but in experience falls well short.