Crimson Peak (2015) Directed by Guillermo del Toro. With Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain.
Guillermo del Toro co-writes and directs Crimson Peak, a gothic romantic ghost story starring Mia Wasikowska as an aspiring author, sandwiched between a seductive Tom Hiddleston and a scheming Jessica Chastain. Fleeing tragedy and the ghosts of her past, Edith (Wasikowska) moves in to a house that the Addams Family would have a hard time settling into.
Frustratingly, the film isn’t as clever or creepy as you might hope, with CGI ghouls (meh!) and cards-on-the-table plot movements that beg for a thicker veil. Instead, we’re privy, early in proceedings, to the nefarious deeds of certain characters, which subtracts a great degree of mystery.
On the plus, Dan Laustsen’s cinematography evokes a brooding sense of atmosphere that permeates throughout the entire piece, which in turn, is supported by Fernando Velázquez’s beautifully ominous orchestral score. Indeed, all the pieces are in place for a instant classic to blossom, yet the storytelling isn’t half as good as it needs to be around the memorable dressing. The actors, particularly Hiddleston, give fine performances, and are suited, booted and frocked in the most stunning attire.
As good as computer-generated special effects often are, with each passing film, I become increasingly certain of my feeling that CGI takes a great deal of horror away from the horror genre. It isn’t hard to understand why a living, breathing special effect has an infinitely greater impact, over that of a floating CGI creation. That, however, is a much larger discussion for another time.
As sumptuous and eye-catching as Crimson Peak undeniably is (also shockingly violent on one occasion), an aching sense of conventionality gets its foot in the door, which leads to and culminates in a sense of overall disappointment. This is partly because we know del Toro is capable work like Pans Labyrinth, and we’re quietly hoping to be similarly swept away. Sadly, it’s not even close. 3/5