By Nate Willis, Entertainment Writer
Director Guillermo del Toro is known for pulling audiences into his fantastic worlds, worlds that are filled with beauty, fantasy, and horror alike. These themes permeate through his latest horror project, “Crimson Peak”, a story about a young writer who falls for a seductive stranger. While the premise is simple, the plot drags the entire film, making the already-intense climax more intense, relatively speaking. With stars like Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston making up the leads, the acting was done beautifully, but the real star that shines isn’t an actor at all, but rather the old, haunted mansion where the majority of the film is shot.
This film felt much too close to a Scooby-Doo plot for me to consider myself a fan. The entire story del Toro is obsessed with is scaring the hell out of the audience using traditional scare tactics involving ghosts. These tactics include: self-opening doors, faint ghastly warnings and moans, and enough aggressive grabbing to make even the most timid of moviegoers grow numb to being genuinely scared. The letdown for this movie comes in the final act, when you realize the crimson skeleton ghosts are really just giant red herrings. This isn’t a spoiler because only good movies get spoiler rights.
The actual title for “Crimson Peak” is the name of the estate that siblings Thomas and Lucille Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, respectively) inherit from their mother. Thomas meets aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and manipulates her into falling in love with him and moving to Crimson Peak to live with him and his sister, Lucille. Del Toro makes no real attempt to hide the fact that the Sharpe siblings are bad news. Edith, who conveniently has the power to see ghosts, is constantly harassed by the ghosts that haunt the mansion. However, as gross and weird as del Toro makes his primary setting, he gives the decrepit manor a life and personality of its own. The house literally breathes and bleeds, while possessing horrible secrets that del Toro can’t wait to reveal.
Overall, I felt like this film, while convincingly acted, was too over-the-top for its own good. Certain scenes lent to the idea that del Toro was going for style over substance, but not in a good way, because it felt more like a cheap horror flick with a lot of jump-at-you framework and close-ups on gory situations than a work of art. I would only recommend this film to the most die-hard of del Toro fans.
Nate’s Netflix Picks:
- Batman Begins
- The Wind that Shakes the Barley