Crimson Peak comes from the wonderfully disturbing mind of Guillermo Del Toro. After the young, aromantic and aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) becomes enamored with the charming and mysterious Englishman Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who's come to America desperately seeking financing for his clay-mining invention. Edith's father, the rich and powerful Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver) rejects Thomas' proposal for financing, partly due to his disdain for his privileged life and partly because there's 'something' he doesn't like about him, but he can't quite pinpoint what it is exactly. Edith's childhood friend and long time admirer Dr Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) is also suspicious of the man, but gives him the benefit of the doubt.
Upon further investigation that's carried out by the best private investigator, Holly (Burn Gorman), that money can buy. Holly uncovers some rather disturbing evidence of Thomas and his peculiar sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) that he immediately passes on to Carter. Once Carter confronts the siblings with irrefutable evidence of all their wrongdoings, he buys them off on two conditions and Thomas and Lucille both accept his generous offer. However, Carter is found brutally murdered the morning after their clandestine deal was agreed to and Edith is left alone with no one to comfort her but Thomas, who she quickly marries and runs off to England with while selling all her possessions in America.
Edith arrives in Thomas and Lucille's massively impressive, but dilapidated estate which is called "Allerdale Hall" and begins seeing ghosts almost immediately. Edith had also seen a ghost of her mother in her youth that warned her to "beware of Crimson Peak" and one day Thomas refers to his estate as 'crimson peak', a nickname the estate has earned because of all the red clay that seeps up through all the snow in the wintertime. All too late does Edith realize that's she's practically hopped and skipped into her worst nightmare.
Crimson Peak has been called a horror movie, and it is, broadly speaking, but it's more of a 'gothic supernatural thriller' than it is a horror movie. Guillermo Del Toro gets credit for not relying on 'jump scares' as well, instead he relies on crafting a tense and unnerving thriller that slowly unravels itself, and in creating a remarkably spooky atmosphere. The cinematography, the set designs, the production values, the wardrobes, everything is splendid to look at, and I found that the mystery was compelling and well acted. Jessica Chastain arguably steals the show as the cold, mesmerizing and unpredictable sister, I didn't know whether to love her, hate her or pity her. Tom Hiddleston also plays his highly nuanced part as well, everyone else was serviceable, but not memorable.
Crimson Peak is a slow movie, but it's deliberately paced and I very much enjoyed the slow reveal of Crimson Peak. The biggest complaint I see of Crimson Peak is that it was 'boring' or that it took too long to 'get going', has no one any patience anymore? It's like people want to know the mystery immediately, just take your time and enjoy it. I thought Crimson Peak was intriguing and reminiscent of the old horror movies that built up to the mystery through a palpable ambience, suspenseful storytelling, evocative lighting and good framing instead of falling back on the all too easy 'jump scares', which I fucking hate. So in that sense Crimson Peak was a very refreshing movie for me, I was expecting it to be more supernatural than it ended up being though. Even still, Crimson Peak felt poetic and had a deeply melancholy and tragic vibe to it that I liked. If you're looking for ghosts that kill people like 'Thirteen Ghosts', then this isn't your movie, but I just turned the lights off and let myself be immersed in the movie and it absolutely did not bore me.
Written by - The Sentry - 12/12/2015