Crimson Peak is a Horror/Thriller film directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. The movie follows a daughter of a wealthy businessman named Edith (Wasikowska), who finds herself swept up by the dashing baronet Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and after an unfathomable tragedy, takes up residence in his family residence. Crimson Peak holds true to many of the tropes which have come to be expected from a Del Toro production, experimenting with the macabre and sinister while sticking to very traditional and well-rounded storylines. At this stage it should be getting old, and in some respects it is, but I mostly found myself completely immersed in yet another Gothic-tinged fairytale by the master himself.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have a lot to do with the aesthetics; from the warm lighting and vibrancy of 1880’s New York to the snow covered plains of Crimson Peak permeated by the blood red ore of the ground below, everything looks gorgeous. The creature design is also visually stunning, despite their reliance on transparent CGI, the uncanny moths which flutter about the dilapidated halls of the manor and the horrid ghouls which lurk around every corner were all inflected with a striking visual style. The subtle imagery of the film helped to foreshadow its underlying themes of deceit in an engaging way.
While this movie was heavily marketed as a Horror film, the truth is it’s more of a mysterious Folk Tale laden with all the supernatural tropes you’d expect from the genre. Being so reliant on traditional methods of storytelling makes the plot of Crimson Peak, frankly, utterly predictable to a fault. The actors do their best to push this plot as best as they can though, with Jessica Chastain’s deplorable Lucille low-key stealing the show. The main character Edith was functional but at times felt like a mere outlet for which these horrible events can manifest themselves upon, rather than a properly fleshed-out and believable protagonist. Finally, Tom Hiddleston as Sir Thomas Sharpe was a delight as the classically trained actor was completely in his element within the old American setting.
Crimson Peak is another visual marvel from director Guillmero Del Toro which sees him once again skimping on storytelling nuance to play to his fetishization of classic story templates. Even with its familiar plot, I found the gothic aesthetic of Crimson Peak’s world and the excellent performances within it gave the film its own unique and intriguingly gruesome identity.