Say what you will about director Guillermo del Toro: the man’s work has a distinctive look and feel. Even when he’s going outside his usual horror movie setting, he creates worlds that have a unique, creepy look to them.
Like, say, the Gothic horror/romance Crimson Peak.
First off: the trailers for this movie really didn’t fit the actual film. They promised a more traditional jump-scare ghost story, and while there’s a bit of that, this isn’t that kind of movie.
Instead, del Toro’s movie is more like something you might read from Edgar Allen Poe, or if one of the Bronte sisters wrote a horror novel. The horror here comes not from the ghosts, but from the atmosphere of the movie itself. This is a movie where the primary colors are black, white, and red. Much of it set in a decaying old house where a hole in the ceiling rains a perpetual snowfall and the rotten floorboards show the red clay under the house that bears a resemblance to human blood. The ghosts just add flavor to the narrative, and effective flavor at that. Frightening at first, they have a purpose of being there and it isn’t what the viewer might initially assume if all they saw were the movie’s trailers.
And yes, frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones plays some of those ghosts. That guy is too awesome not to include in a project like this.
So, what is happening? Well, well-off American girl Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) meets and is romanced by dashing Englishman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Jenny fave Tom Hiddleston). After the sudden, violent death of her father under mysterious circumstances, Edith marries Thomas and moves to his house, nicknamed “Crimson Peak” due to it being built on a hill of red clay, and has to deal with Thomas’ emotionally icy sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Edith has seen a ghost or two before, but she starts seeing more in the crumbling old manor house. Why are there ghosts here? What’s going on in the basement? Who killed her father?
The answers play out in a manner that probably wouldn’t have seemed too foreign for Jane Eyre (another character played in a movie by Wasikowska). Surrounded by shadows and deep reds, Edith has a mystery to solve involving her new husband and sister-in-law, and her time to do so may be limited.
This was a downright creepy movie. Not for the type who prefer more modern horror films, but anyone who appreciates a bit of old school atmosphere as a means to sell horror. Eight out of ten dead insect motifs.