Guillermo Del Toro has a visual style like no other, standing out among today’s film auteurs. From monster fighting Pacific Rim to fantasy fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth and superhero demon Hellboy, Del Toro does not hold back to create brilliant thrills in his films, and Crimson Peak steps up to the table with its Gothic Romance element.
The stunning production design, costumes (Poofy shoulders!), art direction, cinematography and the evocative score shows that flair of Del Toro he can only do. A creepy vibe that nothing is quite right runs throughout the film, Crimson Peak is a great Halloween film that goes back to old school Gothic horror.
Mia Wasikowksa is Edith Cushing, a beautiful young woman and a writer of romantic ghost stories, which she knows to exist. Set in 1900’s Buffalo New York, she lives with her father (Jim Beaver), a wealthy industrialist and is close friends with a doctor (Charlie Hunnam) who cares for her deeply. Into her life suddenly appear charming Englishman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). The siblings are instantly disliked and under suspicion from Mr Cushing, who further resents Sharpe due to the attention he is giving Edith. His suspicions seems true, but Edith doesn’t realise and falls for the Englishman, travelling to his crumbling estate in England. The mansion is set on a rich crimson clay that seeps through the walls and turns the water red and yields many secret to Edith, where there are more ghosts that she has ever encountered and Lucille becomes increasingly sinister and she recognises quickly she is in way to deep.
A perfect blend of creepy horror and romantic drama Crimson Peak is a wonderful return to Gothic macabre and the cast portrays this fantastical horror admirably. Wasikowska leads with an innocent intelligence and determination to understand the horrors that have come her way. However, it is Chastain who stuns as Lucille, quietly foreboding and extremely twisted, she is unrecognisable as a brunette with a upper-class English accent. Then there is Thomas, showing an intense villainy that Hiddleston does so well, silky smooth voice and penetrating gaze in tow.
And with all Del Toro films, there is the grisly violence. As in Pan’s Labyrinth where we see it all up-close and a bit too personal, Crimson Peak is the same, stabbing is shown in gruesome detail and battered skulls pouring blood almost makes you look away, eliciting a queasiness associated with shocking violence.
Crimson Peak is a horror with a hooking story, interesting and twisted characters and gorgeous aesthetic that seeps blood red onto a Victorian romance to create a solid early Halloween fest.