When Guillermo del Toro is involved in anything I’m usually always on board and waiting with bated breath for whatever project of his is coming to us. Yes, I’m a one hundred percent del Toro fan boy and knowing that Crimson Peak was a passion project of his, I knew the fans wouldn’t be disappointed. With the seemingly numerous problems his films run into in production (with the Pacific Rim sequel being a huge indicator), the love he puts into all his films is why he has such a large fan base following him.
Crimson Peak was a movie that has a little inner turmoil at the start. Originally starring everyone’s favorite casting choice, Benedict Cumberbatch, the Sherlock star bowed out early due to undisclosed differences. The split was mutually amicable and it paved the way for Tom Hiddleston, another fan favorite, to slide into the role with Cumberbatch’s blessing. With Alice in Wonderland star Mia Wasikowska taking the vacated role that Emma Stone’s time conflict left, Crimson Peak was made without a hitch with Charlie Hunnam and Jessica Chastain in the other main roles.
The story is set in the 19th century, starting in Buffalo, New York and follows Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), a fledgling young writer who lives with her father, a widowed rich land owner. She quickly falls for Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), a struggling businessman looking for money to build an excavating machine for the clay deposits on his land in England. With his sister Lucille (Chastain) with him, the Sharpes make Edith’s father and a family friend Alan (Hunnam) very uneasy.
A family tragedy ends up hitting the Cushings which leads to Edith getting engaged and married to Thomas. She then packs up everything she owns and leaves for Northern England to live on the Sharpe’s estate, a dilapidated mansion known either as Allendale Hall, or by it’s nickname, the ominous sounding Crimson Peak. The name comes form the deposits of clay under the foundation of the house, which is blood red and also causing it to sink.
Slowly, Edith becomes more and more aware of the ghosts residing in the house and starts to unravel the secrets hidden within the house as her survival hangs in the balance. Through great performances from the cast, this gothic horror romance consistently turns up the creep factor, which we know Guillermo del Toro is so brilliant at.
The star of the this film is definitely he art direction and production value as del Toro knows exactly what factors to tweak to get his signature style out of everything. This entire film is a feast for the eyes with it’s lavish color, the sweeping camera movements and those era perfect iris camera wipes. This movie will have you celebrating Guillermo del Toro’s on point direction well after the credits roll.
The plot may be a tad predictable, as you will end up at the conclusions before the time the film gets there but arriving at these are still very satisfying. The ghosts are terrifyingly creepy, with silhouetted hallaway movements and a few choice jump scares that don’t feel like pandering. The violence, in usual del Toro style, is shocking and brutal, adding great gravity to the story.
The unfortunate thing about all of Guillermo’s work is it’s never been well attended and Crimson Peak may fall into the category as well. Does the audience have the temperament to sit through a period horror piece? Will the draw of Tom Hiddleston be enough? We know that Pacific Rim failed to hit the mark the studio wanted and that had giant robots fighting against giant monsters. I believe this film has what it takes but the projected numbers have me unsure. I believe this is a great theatrical experience that will lose a little luster on home viewings. Either way this was a really fun four out of five.