By Thomas Gillen
“Crimson Peak” is director Guillermo del Toro’s ninth movie and his first since 2013’s “Pacific Rim.” “Crimson Peak” is not his most exciting movie, but it does manage to capture you from the very first scene, keeping its mystery alive for most of the film.
The film stars Mia Wasikowska, who plays the role of Edith Cushing, an aspiring writer and a member of
a wealthy New York family who falls for clay miner and businessman Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston.
Jessica Chastain also stars in the film, taking on the role of Thomas Sharpe’s sister, Lucille. In addition, Charlie Hunnam plays Dr. Alan McMichael, who is an ophthalmologist and Cushing’s close friend. All of the actors do a great job, with Jessica Chastain as the menacing villain, leading the charge.
Even though “Crimson Peak” is marketed as a horror movie, it is actually a Gothic romance story that
happens to include the appearance of ghosts. The romance in question develops between Edith and Thomas Sharpe when he arrives in New York to pitch his latest business idea to Edith’s rich father.
In the opening scenes of the film, we are introduced to Edith as a young girl who is visited by her mother’s ghost who delivers a warning to Edith to stay away from Crimson Peak. Years later, the ghost reappears and repeats the same warning soon after Thomas and Lucille arrive in New York.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Edith has to eventually move into Crimson Peak with Thomas and Lucille. Once in the ancient mansion, Edith discovers that ghosts walk the halls and the Sharpe siblings hold more than a few secrets of their own.
While there are four main characters advertised in “Crimson Peak,” there are actually five. The sharpe mansion in “Crimson Peak” is a character in itself, with its amazing set design and looming presence for a large portion of the movie. Once inside the mansion, it is clear that director Guillermo del Toro envisioned this mansion as one of his main characters. There is so much detail and painstaking effort to make this mansion look as authentic as possible to ones that existed 100 years ago. Like other del Toro films, the cinematography is also outstanding, with some of the best shots showing the interior and exterior of the mansion.
Since “Crimson Peak” contains ghosts, it is important that the ghosts look disturbing, and thankfully they do. The visual effects are also one of the strongest aspects of the movie. Every ghost in the movie has a distinctive look with certain elements separating each one. Ghosts are either black, red, or white, depending on how each one died. Since the ghosts were created using a combination of practical and computer generated effects, each one looks believable and as if it belongs in the world. There are also several jump scares present, but not nearly enough to take the viewer out of the movie.
As for the negative aspects, there are only a few. Out of the four main characters, it is Charlie Hunnam’s that gets short-changed. His character is not as developed as the other three and he disappears for a large part of the movie. The story also drags for a small part in the middle of the movie, but it’s not a major issue.
In the beginning of the movie, Edith describes her book as a love story that just happens to include the presence of ghosts. That is actually what “Crimson Peak” offers. Viewers going into the movie expecting a typical horror movie with tons of jump scares might be disappointed. Instead, they will find a great Gothic period tale of romance with horror elements thrown in.
Like Edith, viewers should not obey the ghost’s warning of Crimson Peak. Instead, it should be sought out, and even though it may not be what viewers expect, all of its elements are well worth the time.