by E. Ladd
Just in time for the spookiest of seasons, critically acclaimed director/writer Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, Pacific Rim) immerses audiences in ghost story territory with his new gothic romance horror film Crimson Peak.
Aspiring young authoress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lives with her wealthy widowed father (Jim Beaver) in early 1900s Buffalo, NY. (No, they didn’t actually film here; the movie was shot mostly in Ontario). Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a dashing English baronet, has come to town with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), to seek financial backing from Edith’s father for a steam punk styled clay-digging invention. Edith becomes intrigued by Thomas and, much to the chagrin of her childhood friend/potential suitor Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), she eventually accompanies the Sharpes to their English estate, the titular haunted house, about which the specter of Edith’s dead mother once warned.
The look of this film is amazing: this is grand scale opulence. From a turn-of-the-century world bathed in golden light, with Edith in her gowns of lace collared, ivory and mustard colored satins, to the ominous, spiky studded archways of a gothic hell house, complete with other worldly-lit corridors inhabited by skinless, sanguine, skeletal women, and walls and floors that ooze with thick blood-red clay, and a hole in the ceiling of the grand foyer which constantly rains dead leaves, dust, and moths...yup, the art department for this film really knocked one out of the ballpark. You can tell that Mr. Del Toro had a lot of fun making this film. The cinematography, set designs, fantastic lighting, special effects, symbolism, historic references, score, and costumes are all impeccably done.
The story? It’s a bit predictable. Del Toro took the classic haunted house genre and made it look spectacular. Honestly, kudos. The gore occasionally surprises you, maybe even shocks, but is this a truly scary film, other than a few jumpy moments? Especially once the mystery is revealed, you sit back and think, huh, I guess I expected something different. Or more. It’s still a beautiful film to watch, despite its few flaws.
Watch the trailer for Crimson Peak
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