Happy October! I know, I know, I've taken a long break again but unfortunately I was ill and was totally out of commission for all of September so I'm making up for it by bringing you a brand new review! As I'm sure most of you are aware, I'm a sucker for a good period piece. The Witch and The Lighthouse both rank among my favorite horror movies of all time, and I sadly missed out on Crimson Peak when it released in 2015, so this review is long overdue. If you have not seen the film I suggest you do before continuing as I will be spoiling the movie. There's your warning. If you want to keep reading without having seen the movie first it's on you.
Crimson Peak was written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain, Crimson Peak follows Edith (Wasikowska) as she falls for the charming and mysterious Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and leaves her entire life behind to live with him and his sister Lucile (Chastain) in their manor in England, only to learn that the siblings are hiding some very dark secrets. On Rotten Tomatoes the film is sitting critically fresh with 73% approval rating, but an abysmal audience approval at only 55%. With such polarizing scores I was curious to see where my own opinion would fall. Let's break the movie down and figure that out, shall we? We'll start with the story.
To kick things off, it's established right off the bat that Edith can see ghosts. We don't know why, or if anyone else can see them, but we know Edith can. Within the first couple of minutes into the movie the ghost of Edith's mother appears to her to warn her to "beware of Crimson Peak." The movie then jumps ahead twelve years and Edith is an aspiring writer, but her work is getting rejected because she's a woman. Honestly, this plot thread doesn't go anywhere and I'm not sure why it was included in the film so I'm not going to waste time on it. Thomas Sharpes arrives in America from England to speak with Edith's father, who is a wealthy businessman, to seek an investment from him in his clay mining invention. Dear old dad immediately doesn't like Thomas, and really doesn't like that he's taken a shine to Edith. As the two get closer dad bribes Thomas and his sister to leave and sever all ties with Edith. Thomas agrees, and shortly after dad is murdered by an unknown assailant.
With nothing left for her in New York, Edith agrees to marry Thomas and move with him and Lucile back to England. Most of the time spent here is Edith seeing ghostly visions and trying to unravel the mystery of what's happening. As it turns out, Thomas was married previously, and Lucile had been poisoning his past wives in order to collect their inheritances to fund Thomas' mining endeavors and that she killed Edith's dad in order to drive Edith to Thomas. Also we find out that they're banging which is super gross and incest-y, but thankfully the movie really doesn't spend much time on it. Once Edith learns the truth Lucile tries to kill her but Thomas protects her because he has genuinely fallen in love with Edith. Lucile kills Thomas and in a final confrontation Edith kills Lucile. There's also a doctor who is a family friend that shows up to try and rescue her but his character means so little it's barely worth including.
So as a whole, the story is decent. It's a love story, a ghost story, and a mystery all wrapped up in a two hour run time that frankly, could have had some fat trimmed from it. For a two hour film, the movie lags at the beginning and heading into the third act. I'm all for a slow burn, and Crimson Peak does a good job of building tension but there are too many unnecessary side plots that could have been cut to tighten up the movie a bit more. The acting all around is very good, particularly by Hiddleston and Chastain. They are a wonderful pair of antagonists and Chastain in particular steals the spotlight whenever she's on screen.
Of course, we can't have a Del Toro movie without talking about the visual effects. The ghosts in Crimson Peak are without a doubt, the best looking, creepiest ghosts I've seen in any movie hands down. Their design is so macabre and unsettling, they're genuinely creepy. The house itself is also on the creepy side, with the decrepit building slowly falling apart and no effort put into repairs. The score, while in my opinion mostly forgettable, is effective in certain moments.
Overall, Crimson Peak is an above average ghost story. Not the best one out there by a long shot, but definitely worth your time. But I want to know your thoughts! Have you seen Crimson Peak? Did reading this review make you want to see it? If you have seen it, what did you think? Leave a comment below and we'll talk about it!