The warning “Beware Crimson Peak” is a central haunting phrase in Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie, “Crimson Peak.” This caution holds true, not only for the movie’s unwitting heroine but the moviegoers as well. While enjoyable, if moviegoers are looking for a skin-crawling horror movie “Crimson Peak” falls short of the mark.
Starting with the positive, the movie scores high points for creating an eerie and morose atmosphere that effectively keeps viewers on edge. Sombre music, stark lighting and ghastly sound effects fuel the imagination and provide a haunting backdrop for the story’s gothic mystery that counters most of the movie’s weak points.
While Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of conflicted baronet Thomas Sharp was far too emo for my taste, Mia Wasikowska compensated by providing some wit and life in American heiress Edith Cushing. But it is Jessica Chastain’s scenes as the neurotic and unbalanced Lucille Sharp that were most memorable.
As for horror, del Toro was correct in his assertions on Twitter that “Crimson Peak” is less of a horror movie than it is a gothic romance. The movie’s ghosts do provide some decent jump scares and there’s some gorey bits as well, but for the most part it is the story’s overarching mystery and its accompanying romance that provides more tension than anything supernatural.
Perhaps most disappointing of all was how movie so accurately foreshadowed subsequent events to the point that it allowed for a relatively accurate projection of its twists and turns. While forgivable in a movie that is packed with horror, “Crimson Peak” is much more of a narrative driven experience and this detracts from much of the gothic mystery surrounding the plot.
While a slightly disappointing film, the beauty of horror movies as a social event is that they provide plenty of opportunity for discussion and critique. And even if “Crimson Peak” fails its potential, its highs and lows still allow for an enjoyable trip to the cinema.
SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers. Please do not read if you do not want to know certain aspects of this movie.
“Crimson Peak” began at the end, with a mysterious, suspenseful atmosphere. Early in the movie, a ghost appears to warn Edith (Mia Wasikowska) about Crimson Peak. The ghosts were unique compared to the common translucent, white and gray version most movies depict. The first ghost that appeared in the movie was not scary at all; it was probably the most animated looking ghost of the entire movie.
Edith is an aspiring novelist. Her mother is dead and her father (Jim Beaver) is wealthy and protective of his daughter.
The mystery began when Edith’s father bribes a peculiar Englishman, Thomas, and his sister, Lucille, to leave his town and daughter. Edith’s father’s motives are not revealed, but he is soon gruesomely murdered by an unknown killer. Lucille (Jessica Chastain) seems to be jealous of her brother’s interest in Edith, and it hints at an incestuous relationship between the siblings.
From there the story evolves fast and moves to Allerdale Hall, the house in England where the siblings grew up, with Edith married to the Englishman. Allerdale hall is constructed on top of a hill, hours away from the nearest town. It is huge, but dilapidated. Edith hates the house because ghosts are terrorizing her at night. A few days after Edith has moved in, Thomas mentions that Allerdale Hall is sometimes referred to as Crimson Peak, because the red dirt on the hill causes the snow to turn blood red. The revelation reminds Edith of the ghost’s warning, and results in her determination to investigate the house, as well as the cause of death of the ghosts haunting it. These ghosts are much scarier and have a gruesome appearance. I had to cover my eyes at some point because I personally don’t like being scared.
I personally do not enjoy watching scary movies, but I enjoyed this movie because, despite the fact it has a few slightly frightening parts, the story itself was actually entertaining. There was more to the movie that just finding the perfect moment to scare the audience. I think that is why everything is interpreted in a unique way when it comes to the ghosts. If you do not particularly enjoy bloody, violent movie scenes then this is not the movie for you.The gore is probably the most disturbing part of the movie; there was even a moment in which the entire audience gasped loudly. I do not mind gore much, but this movie is definitely not appropriate for anyone under 17.
I would definitely recommend this movie to a friend. I enjoyed the story. It has everything from love, suspense, ghosts, action and gore to a great cast.