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Crimson Peak Review

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After the giant robot/giant monster smackdown that was Pacific Rim, Guillermo Del Toro returns to something akin to his earlier, Spanish language work (The Devil’s Backbone especially) with gothic mystery Crimson Peak. A word of warning to hardcore horror fans though, to call this a horror movie would do it a disservice. As the movie makes great pains to point out at the start, this isn’t really a ghost story. It’s a story with a ghost in it. So, while there are some scares thrown in now and again, the movie is more concerned with building the mystery at its heart, as well as delivering a visual treat along the way.


With its Victorian setting and gothic tone, Crimson Peak answers the question I’m pretty sure no one ever asked: What if Guillermo Del Toro made a Hammer movie? He’d do it quite well is the answer, with a crumbling mansion in 19th century Cumbria, England being the setting for the romance between Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After the two marry, they relocate to Sharpe’s ancestral home, the titular Crimson Peak (named for the way the unique red clay from the Sharpe family mines stains the snow around the house red), where Edith is warned by ghosts that haunt its halls against trusting Thomas and his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain).

As you expect, Del Toro’s knack for unforgettable and arresting visuals allows him to exploit the gothic setting to its fullest. From the blood red clay seeping thorough the floorboards giving the illusion that the house is actually bleeding, to the decaying crimson spectres who wear the outward markings of their death like a badge of honour, the look of of this movie absolutely gorgeous. There is no modern twist or flourish given to Crimson Peak, it remains classic to its very core. At the end of the day it’s a mystery, and while some people may complain that the outcome is painfully obvious, you can’t fault its construction and execution. Each element of the big picture is drip fed to the audience perfectly, making sure we have all the answers before showing its hand. The supernatural elements compliment the main thrust of the story incredibly well, adding a nice sense of dread to proceedings before providing the perfect denouement.


The characters also add to the enjoyment of Del Toro’s vision, with Wasikowska proving to be the perfect heroine, just the right mixture of innocence and steely determination. She’s the perfect foil to Hiddleston’s charming bastard, with the actor pulling once again pulling a Loki by making you like and despise him at the same time. I’m still scratching my head at why Charlie Humman needed to be part of the story, his character not really amounting to much, but he does well with what he’s given. But they all rightfully step aside for Jessica Chastain to steal the show. She is clearly relishing playing the unbalanced Lucille, and perfectly switches between fragile and psychotic in the blink of an eye.

Marrying the director’s eye for unique visuals to the classic feel of movies past, Crimson Peak is a loving tribute to a style of movie we sadly don’t get anymore.






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The Movie Bit: Crimson Peak Review
Crimson Peak Review
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