Crimson Peak Review

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Much of Guillermo del Toro’s filmography is revolved around horror, yet his best work in horror has been his films done in Spanish. Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone are all incredible films that showcase del Toro’s talent for the horror genre. Now, Guillermo del Toro’s first film back in the horror genre since The Devil’s Backbone is also his first English speaking horror film. However, there’s a crazy amount of hype that comes to a horror film that’s done by del Toro. So does Crimson Peak live up to the hype or does it crumble from the amount of pressure?

Yes, Crimson Peak is a return to form for the horror maestro. The film is an eerie tale of intrigue, secrets, and Gothic romance. While current horror audiences will be put off by the slow pacing of the film, film geeks will enjoy the old-school style of filmmaking that’s reminiscent of the “Hammer Horror” films of the late-50s.

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Crimson Peak follows American heiress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) as she falls in love with the titled but penniless, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After their marriage, Edith follows Thomas back to his decrepit family estate. Once there, she sees the peculiar relationship between Thomas and his considerably less welcoming sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and soon she begins to uncover the secrets inside Allerdale Hall.

The wonderful collaboration between del Toro, cinematographer, and art departments help bring together del Toro’s most visually striking film yet. Like del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak is like a painting unto itself, including Allerdale Hall which is a living character on its own. Dan Laustsen’s cinematography is a haunting visual delight that relies on the composition, costuming, and exceptional camera work to bring Peak to life.

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However, don’t let the trailers fool you, Crimson Peak is not what you think it is. Guillermo del Toro isn’t attempting to redefine the horror genre, but paying homage to the artform that he sincerely loves. With Peak, del Toro chose to go back to his roots and direct a film that’s very much like his breakout film, The Devil’s Backbone. Del Toro sticks to his strengths while developing brand new ones. He instills the film with a supernatural threat at every corner while slowly building the tension in the process. We haven’t seen this type of slow-burn filmmaking in quite a while. It’s superior old-school filmmaking, and a master class in sophisticated horror.

With Crimson Peak, del Toro has put together a fantastic cast that perfectly emulates the clichéd Gothic characters. Hiddleston portrays his sensitive and sympathetic character with the subtle nuances that you come to expect from him. Chastain is cold, terrifying, and deranged as Lucille, a role that she clearly had a lot of fun playing. She’s over-the-top, but Chastain never goes overboard. Not surprising but both Hiddleston and Chastain are delightful together. As for Mia Wasikowska, she does a great job coming across as strong-willed and naive with that slight hint of craziness. Let’s not forget the other star in the film, the haunted house itself. Sure, it’s kind of a clichéd thing to say but Allerdale Hall is so beautifully and intricately built that one can’t help but think that the mansion itself is a character.

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But not everything in Crimson Peak is wonderful. From the beginning, the film lets the audience know that it’s self-aware. In the film, Edith tells Thomas that her story is “not a ghost story, it’s a story that just happens to have ghosts in it.” It’s these kinds of cues that’ll have many viewers see what’s coming long before it happens. There are no surprises or shocks to be found here. Yet, Edith’s journey to uncover the secrets of Allerdale Hall is so compelling that you’ll still be able to enjoy the film.

Overall, it’s refreshing to come across a horror film that’s as refined as Crimson Peak. Del Toro’s passion for the Gothic films of old is evident but trying to interpret the past into the present is an accomplishment in itself. Strikingly beautiful, perfectly cast, and twistedly entertaining, Crimson Peak proves why del Toro is one of the great filmmaker’s working today.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1508 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.