Dark, twisted and sometimes downright frightening, Crimson Peak provides an ideal horror fix yet also offers romance and tragedy.
Guillermo Del Toro delivers a film that is beautifully directed but lacks substance. It follows a trend of Del Toro films, which look great, but its story never quite delivers like you want it too.
The first act is very much a romance story, as the films protagonist Edith Cushing played by Mia Wasikowska falls in love with Thomas Sharpe played by Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston is easily the most interesting thing in this film. His character keeps you guessing throughout of his true intentions and in many ways carries the film with his performance.
The second act follows a very familiar story that has been used so many times in film and television. After events in America now married, Cushing and Sharpe move to England to live in Sharpe’s family home known as Crimson Peak to live with his sister Lucille Sharpe played by Jessica Chastain.
Throughout the film it keeps you guessing of the Sharpe’s siblings motives and what they have planned for Cushing. It is here when the story begins to fall apart.
Although the ghosts in this film although add tension and jump scares, they seem pointless and did not offer much to the story at all. In fact you could take the ghosts out of the film and it wouldn’t change much of the story. There are many scenes in the film where Wasikowska gets up in the middle of the night and starts exploring the house and finds ghosts. These scenes became repetitive and added very little to the story.
Wasikowska really was given very little to do in this film except get scared and run. Her character was very uninteresting and uneven; in the first act a big plot point was Cushing’s desire to become a writer and her obsession with writing ghost stories, which was one of her most interesting attributes. Unfortunately 40 minutes in this plot point was dropped not really mentioned again except a few passing comments from Sharpe.
The best thing this film has going for it is how aesthetically pleasing it is. The set design is spectacular; its use of colours are truly beautiful there really isn’t a bad shot in the entire film. Its use of dark colours really helped create an unsettling tone and Del Toro’s eye for detail really stands out in every shot.
Del Toro both directed and written this film, and in many ways the script is what let it down. The dialogue at times feels very wooden and uninteresting. This is most clear in Jessica Chastain’s Character. Chastain is really trying here as the films protagonist, but Del Toro did very little to help her in terms of dialogue and her motivations seemed unclear at times.
The last 20 minutes of this film however are fantastic, it’s conclusion felt both satisfying and tragic, as well as adding unexpected twists that this reviewer did not see coming.
Crimson Peak is definitely not a bad film, only disappointing. Its first and final acts are really strong but its middle act let it down. Del Toro’s strengths as a director are really clear here; this is probably the best looking film he has ever made.
The performances here are also quite strong even if the characters aren’t as so. Del Toro really should take a step back when it comes to writing his films as a director he is flawless.
By Simon Hanson