Movie Review: “Crimson Peak”

Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

There is no name in modern cinema which is more synonymous with art, the supernatural and horror than Guillermo del Toro. His reputation proceeds him in his latest cinematic venture “Crimson Peak.”

“Crimson Peak” is a gothic horror, and oddly enough, romance film directed by del Toro and starring such notable names as Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam. The story follows a young woman at the turn of the 20th century, Edith Cushing, who is an aspiring author, crushed in her publishing dreams. However, after running into a young baronet, played by Hiddleston, and suffering a tragedy, she is thrown into a world of haunting spirits and bloody pasts while being haunted by the memory of her mother’s ghost who warned her, “beware of Crimson Peak.”

While the plot of the movie actually operates more like a gothic murder-mystery rather than horror, the “horror” comes in visuals and the occasional jump scares. What makes the absolute terror in the movie are the ghosts. Del Toro’s work in the supernatural has always been hailed in his previous works such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy,” but the ghosts in the film are gruesome and visceral.

They are what makes the movie “scary” as all of them are decayed and broken, bloodied with sections of their bodies missing, and extremely ethereal. As they crawl and creep through scenes, they are enveloped in red blood which fades off their body like smoke.

The setting itself adds to the eerie tone and hellish environment when the movie finally transitions to the Allerdale estate. The house itself is gothic and massive, dark and gloomy with very low winter light, and the walls literally bleed. Due to “red clay” deposits beneath the manor, the red liquid clay seeps through the floor and cracks making the house itself look like it is bleeding. This is the most unsettling part of the setting, as in every room of the manner there looks to be blood splattered and it was impossible to remain in a state of ease during the film’s second half.

While the ghosts and the setting do a fantastic job establishing the horror, the movie’s soundtrack does fall victim to the typical tropes of horror movies of the modern day.

There are loud violin chords on jump scares, and leading up to those scares the ominous orchestral notes give away typically when they were okay. The soundtrack does a fair job matching the early 1900s period, and the moments where a gramophone (ancestor of the record player) was used to play music was a nice touch.

The actors, when it comes down to it, vary in terms of performance. The main characters Edith, played by Mia Wasikowska, and the Scharpe siblings Thomas (Hiddleston) and Lucille, played by Jessica Chastain, who are the focus for the second half of the movie, do a good job.

Wasikowska shows a good sense of terror when dealing with the events of the movie, but there are moments where her character who has no history of dealing with the supernatural seems almost unnaturally calm in her hauntings. Hiddleston, known for his acting as Loki in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers movies, does a great job playing the aristocratic hopeful entrepreneur, Thomas Scharpe.

However, the true star of the film is Chastain’s character. Her character is extremely intense, and her role in the film is brought to its peak by her acting. There are moments in the film where in bursts of outrage, veins show on her forehead and she looks as if she has actually gone insane.

“Crimson Peak” is a movie worthy of viewing this Halloween season. Though it is not a movie which makes you want to hide under the covers again, it is a movie which scares and holds an edge-of-your-seat plot.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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