Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver | Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro
For any horror fan, having a film described as “A Gothic ghost story directed by Guillermo del Toro” will sell it to them in an instant. While some may be disappointed when they discover this is not a horror, Crimson Peak is still an education for viewers that not all ghost stories have to be horrific…
In Crimson Peak, Mia Wasikowska is Edith Cushing, an aspiring actor who falls for a mysterious stranger, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) looking for investment into his building project. After the death of her father she soon marries Sharpe and moves into his home, Crimson Peak inhabited by him, his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) and memories that refuse to stay silent.
If you are a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s previous films like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, then you’ll be at home with Crimson Peak straight away. It may be a more stylised and is cleaner in presentation, but it is full of del Toro’s heart, and that is what makes it so good. Where some may feel it fails is that it is not a horror, even though it does dip a foot into the genre at times.
What Crimson Peak shows is that you can include ghosts in a film without it being horror. Yes, we see ghosts and there are plenty of creepy scenes, but what we actually get with Crimson Peak is a Gothic Love Story. It may feel a little too familiar at times, but it is in this familiarity that it is easy to fall in love with the film.
The fact is, this feels like a story that the Bronte Sisters would be proud of, even if it sometimes does have an element of being dumbed down at times. It is as if del Toro knows that people are expecting horror, and he’s not afraid to change the rules on them. In changing the rules though he also has to hold the hands of the audience and tell them it is okay for it to not be a horror, and to just enjoy what you are seeing.
When it comes to acting, the stand-out performances are easily Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain. I would say that Chastain steals the show though with her performance as the dominant sister. When you’ve seen enough films similar to this you suss out her character quickly, but that doesn’t stop Chastain from pulling the audience in to her character. Credit also has to be given to Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam too of course as they do play their parts well.
What I really enjoyed about Crimson Peak is the fact that this is the film you expect from Guillermo del Toro when he has the budget to make it. This is him bringing a taste of his previous movies to a Hollywood audience and enticing them into his world of imagination. After they’ve seen Crimson Peak, then is the moment to show them Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone for you to have the true del Toro experience, and that is the true beauty of Crimson Peak.
Crimson Peak is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.