Master monster-maker Guillermo del Toro has once again proven that he doesn’t need to make a horror movie to provide scares and entertainment. Labeled as a gothic romance piece, “Crimson Peak” is a beautiful blend of absolutely frightening ghosts and effects, gorgeous costumes and sets and decent to good acting.
The viewers are immediately thrust into the horrific world that the leading lady, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lives in as she tells the story of how she saw her mother’s ghost when she was a young child. In all honesty, even though the design and effects of the ghost were absolutely spectacular, the opening felt somewhat abrupt as it only served the purpose of showing Edith’s late mother warning her about Crimson Peak. After that spooky scene, the viewers were introduced to Alan McMichael, (Charlie Hunnam), and Edith’s father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), who rejects a proposed invention from Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Thomas ends up falling in love with Edith, to Carter’s disapproval. He then bribes Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) to leave and break his daughter’s heart. Thomas agrees, but Carter is brutally murdered, which opens Edith up to marriage.
Spookier things begin to happen as the film’s setting shifts from New York to the Sharpe mansion, which ends up being Crimson Peak, which is the exact place her mother warned her about. The rest of the film is spent showing the creative and unsettling ways del Toro can make a gothic romantic movie and Edith taking a little too long to discover the horrible truth about her husband, his mysterious sister and the manor they live in.
Del Toro is no stranger to making monsters. He’s been doing it for 30 years (i.e. Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth), so anybody who came to see creepy, yet jaw-droppingly gorgeous monsters and special effects will not be disappointed. In fact they’ll probably be more than impressed with how far del Toro has come with his designs and effects. I remember one certain scene with a red ghost that started off transparent but slowly turned into a tangible being with the face mutating as it did so. While most of the ghosts are done solely with CGI, it still feels like a del Toro production with his definable style.
The average moviegoer looking for a decent movie will enjoy the movie for its acting. Hiddleston and Chastain are the shining stars of the movie, and its appealing aesthetic makes it so that “Crimson Peak” is able to hold the viewer’s attention in a good way. People who pay a little more attention to movies than the next guy will most likely find problems here and there. The story seemed to drag on at times and there were scenes that had no other point than to show off the ghosts in the movie, which resulted in scenes beginning and ending in such an abrupt manner that it actually took me out of the movie one or two times. However, the film made up for that as it is a cinematographer’s dream. The contrasting lighting in certain scenes, and the sets themselves were beyond perfect for the tone of the film and resulted in a gorgeous film inside and out.
“Crimson Peak” may not be the peak of del Toro’s work, but it’s definitely worth your 10 dollars to see it at least once while it’s still in theaters.
Rating: 4.5 stars