Guillermo del Toro has been involved with a bunch of ghost mysteries now, and you’re probably as familiar with the formula as I – spooky apparitions gradually reveal themselves to the film’s lead, who goes on to uncover a historical injustice and exact some form of revenge. Thankfully, there’s more to his Gothic outing Crimson Peak than this over-familiar structure, helped in part by Mia Wasikowska’s character never having a doubting Thomas attitude to the paranormal to overcome.
That’s not to say Crimson Peak oozes originality, and certainly not to the same extent as the walls of the haunted house and their conveniently blood-coloured drool. Del Toro works with a number of well-worn elements here – a crumbling family dynasty here, a marriage swindle there, and even frequently deploying the dreaded teal/orange colour palette more than anyone else this side of Michael Bay.
What elevates Crimson Peak above a humdrum retread are its performances. The trio of leads all bring plenty to the table, Wasikowska walking a fine line between naivety and confidence, Tom Hiddleston serving up humanity alongside heartlessness, and Jessica Chastain seemingly relishing the chance to play against type as his chilly sibling. Del Toro offers up a magnificent backdrop for his cast, building an enormous sumptuously-decaying English mansion in which to set pivotal portions of the tale, as well as the striking blood-stained snow against which the film’s finale unfolds.
While it may be slow to get going for some, del Toro and Matthew Robbins’ screenplay is full of first-act witticism, although it may hold few surprises by its conclusion. But by indulging the senses with its gore, set design and costuming, and drawing on the skills of its cast, Crimson Peak is enjoyable if not awe-inspiring.
‘Crimson Peak’ Movie Times