Superstar director Guillermo del Toro is back with his latest work, Crimson Peak.  In this story Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of a wealthy American business man is wooed by an enigmatic English landowner, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston).  Sharpe has come to the states looking for financiers to back his clay mining operation on his family’s property.  Edith is particularly charmed by Sir Thomas and eventually they are wed, at which point he whisks her back to his family home, a crumbling Gothic mansion in Cumberland, England to live with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).  It doesn’t take long for Edith, who has possessed a sense for the supernatural since a young age, to start seeing strange and frightening apparitions in the old house.  Clearly the ghosts don’t want her there, but the reason why might just be far more sinister than she could ever imagine.

So let’s start out with the basics.  For a movie released close to Halloween and trailers that focus primarily on the ghosts, you would think this might be a pretty scary movie.  I know I did.  That is where you would be wrong.  It had scary moments, and it had the requisite suspense and tension of a horror movie, but I don’t feel like there was enough actual “horror” for it to fall into that genre.  Most of the truly horrific elements occur in the first half of the film, but after that the story kind of abandons them and it shifts into full on mystery/thriller territory.  That’s not to say that it was bad, I just feel like it was promoted in a pretty misleading way.  There is a pretty significant twist in the plot, but it’s not particularly well veiled, so you can sort of see it coming, which takes part of the fun out of the endeavor.

Visually, the movie is beautiful in a gruesome and grotesque sort of way.  The mansion, in all of its dilapidated glory, has so many intricate little elements and details that call back to an older breed of horror movie, with grand set designs and massive haunted houses.  You see just enough to make you curious, which ultimately makes you want to explore and see more of the rooms, just as Edith’s character does.  Also, the character/creature design is fantastic.  I can guarantee you that you’ve never seen ghosts like these before, and once del Toro finally gives you a good look at one, you hate looking at it, but at the same time can’t make yourself turn away.  Those are the kind of movie monsters that I really love.

The acting from the three leads is pretty solid all the way around.  Hiddleston plays the part of the tortured soul torn between two choices particularly well.  Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Chastain plays her part really well also.  Wasikowska was good, but I feel like she came off a little flat and emotionless at times.

Overall, it was a fun movie, but I just feel like there could have been more of a horror element to the story.  To be bluntly honest, I feel like it wasn’t really a haunted house story at all.  The ghosts themselves serve a very small purpose and the movie could have easily gotten along in other ways without them, which as I mentioned before, is not preferable when your marketing strategy puts the spirits front and center.

The Verdict for Crimson Peak:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.


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