Crimson Peak Review
Crimson Peak is a 2015 gothic horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston. It is an unforgettable and truly unnerving experience.
It follows a young woman named Edith who marries a strange man and goes to live with him and his sister in their haunted house. This story is such a riveting one, always fascinating and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. I like its incorporation of different genres and I am frustrated that people don’t know how to classify it properly. To me this is primarily a horror movie, a gothic horror tale that at times incorporates the genres of romance as well as mystery. That I absolutely loved as all of those genres are properly executed and I loved all of those elements. The romance is truly there and the emotion is definitely felt whereas I also adored its mysterious aspects with the unraveling of a mystery in the film’s second half.
But as for the horror elements, Crimson Peak works wonderfully! This is one of the most purely unsettling and just simply terrifying films I’ve seen in years. I liked it because it uses many different types of scares from jump scares to atmospheric thrills to pure character-driven terror and madness. And all of these work as all are executed marvelously. The jump scares are mostly present in the first half of the film and there were a couple of times when I was startled by those. The ghosts are so authentic in this picture as, without spoiling anything, they are used differently and they matter to the story’s development. And their design was great. The atmosphere is also superb mostly due to incredible technical achievements, but more on that later. You feel as you’ve been transported to that time period and I absolutely love horror movies set in the past as those have the most potential to be great as well as artistic. But the atmosphere is great, always dark and always frightening and mysterious, making you feel unease.
But the best horror is that felt by the characters’ actions and behavior. “You are monsters! Both of you!” – those words said by our protagonist Edith Cushing best exemplify the inherent nature of despair and madness in Crimson Peak. The characters have depth and they have their backstories which explain why they arrived to their current state which is great because it shows the film’s cleverness and realism. But those moments are the greatest, the moments in which you feel for the main character and in which you are appalled at the actions and behavior of the villains who are just superb here. The writing here is just gorgeous.
The character development is splendid with every character properly developed. Edith is a great protagonist because while being too naive at times, she is also very smart at other times and her story here is tragic and you really root for her. Dr. Alan is solid for the little screen time he got and Edith’s father is very grounded and such a caring person. But this is the film about the Sharpe siblings and they own the whole thing. Thomas is such a mysterious figure and he is very unpredictable as well. He has a great third act with a great revelation and the relationship between him and Edith is such a crazy, but fascinating one. As for Lucille, she is without a doubt the highlight in my opinion, she is mad, crazy, despicable and such a great screen presence and such a fascinating, terrifying character that is truly one of the best villains of recent years.
The acting is phenomenal across the board. But this is above all such a tremendous casting at display because all of these three actors are in their looks and manner of speaking so perfect for these roles set in the past, this time in the 19th century. Mia Wasikowska is once again superb for this role and she did such a great job with it. She was believable in every scene which is great because her character has an emotional rollercoaster throughout the whole flick. Tom Hiddleston is mesmerizing in his role and this is probably the best I’ve seen from him. He plays the part beautifully and gives a powerhouse performance.
But Jessica Chastain is one of the reasons Crimson Peak works as a horror movie. She gives such a subtle yet in the end over-the-top performance which is perfect for this role. Her British accent is solid and her manner of speech and her facial expressions are superb. She created this fantastic villainous character and gave her a soul as well. She is definitely one of my favorite actresses of all time and in my opinion the best actress working today.
Now the movie does have a couple of faults mainly the third act which goes into some unwelcome, disgusting territory with too much gore and the predictable nature of the storyline is evident. Yes, it is expected, but it is still riveting to follow. And although some scenes are repulsive and the taboo subject that revealed itself in the last parts is always unfortunate to me, but at least it was explained psychologically which shows the movie’s clever script. But despite those flaws, this is mostly a tremendous piece of work and although it of course cannot be compared to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth‘, that is a stupid comparison as that movie is one of the best ever made and comparing would be unfair. But overall it is one of the very best del Toro’s films to me as it shows his strengths as a director wonderfully and he did such a great job with it.
Besides the direction which is fantastic, Crimson Peak is technically polished from every aspect. This is the kind of film that is just beautiful to look at with fantastic cinematography, arresting visuals and just breathtaking imagery. The castle or the house to be exact is just gorgeous to look at with stunning attention to detail and the costume design is beautiful to behold. The interiors as well as exteriors are wonderful to look at and the movie is pleasantly dark and I would have to say even artistic as to me it felt like a moving picture at times. I would definitely call it art. But its detailed, meticulous approach is evident and the film has imagination to spare. The way the house works with its different rooms and floors, elevator and cellar is so thrilling to behold. As for its score, it is simply phenomenal and one of the best scored movies of the year without any doubt. It is perfectly fitting for its genre with its eerie nature and is just so memorable at times. The tone is deftly handled ranging from horrific to emotional and romantic. The dialogue is superb and even the humor is present here, the kind of dark and sinister black humor that is rarely in the movie, but that still improves the experience to some degree. And the film does have a heart for sure with such a satisfying and moving ending. It is also wonderfully edited, never boring or too fast-paced.
With arresting visuals, amazing acting across the board, breathtaking imagery, sinister atmosphere and wonderfully developed characters, Crimson Peak is at times a bit predictable and also often too repulsive, but it is always riveting and always frightening, atmospheric and filled with utter despair and madness. It is one of the most authentic-looking movies of recent years and one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had in a while. But it is above all a truly unnerving, deeply unsettling experience.
My Rating – 4.5