REVIEW: Crimson Peak

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Review by Dustin Heller

Crimson Peak is the new gothic romance film from writer and director Guillermo del Toro.  Del Toro is one of the great Mexican filmmakers working today and has created such titles as Pan’s LabyrinthBlade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and the blockbuster monster film Pacific Rim.  Crimson Peak boasts an excellent cast including Mia Wasikowska, Tom HiddlestonJessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam.  The film will be shown in IMAX theaters as well as standard theaters beginning October 16.

Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) is a writer from a privileged background who falls for a mysterious man visiting New York with his sister.  The man is Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Chastain) are in town searching for investors for their red clay business in the remote English hills.  Upon the death of her father, Edith and Thomas decide to marry and move to Thomas’ family estate in England: Allerdale Hall.  It is here where Edith begins to see and interact with ghosts and she recalls a visit from her mother’s ghost some 14 years earlier.  The mysterious Lucille also lives at the house and she is not kind to Edith as she is hiding a secret agenda.  As the days go by, Edith becomes ill and her interactions with the ghosts become more frequent.  She must figure out the mystery of Allerdale Hall before it’s too late.

Crimson Peak is one of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen all year, but the plot and the suspense fell somewhat flat.  Del Toro himself described the film as “a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story,” which is actually a good description, but a little misleading.  The horror element really isn’t there at all, although there is a fair amount of suspense.  The film is meant to keep you guessing throughout, but I felt that most of that mystery was fairly obvious early on.

I love Jessica Chastain, but her character was so over the top that I felt she revealed some of the secrets just with her acting.  I love it that Guillermo del Toro is still making these original films because I truly feel that he is a visionary filmmaker.  Crimson Peak just didn’t have enough to hold my interest throughout its almost two-hour run time.  I’m afraid this film will have a hard time finding an audience because its more of a period piece than it is a ghost story and I’m not sure either group will enjoy it.  If you’re a fan of del Toro’s visual style, then this is the perfect movie for you; for everyone else, there’s not enough there for me to recommend a trip to the theater.

Grade:  C

Crimson Peak opens in theaters on Friday, October 16

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