I will watch any movie Guillermo Del Toro releases. I’ve enjoyed I believe everything he has directed, to varying degrees. The amount of detail and attention he gives to every single frame of his movies is remarkable. Seriously, watch the bonus features on some of his DVDs and you will be stunned at the amount of effort he puts into his work. His movies never seem to make as much money as I feel they deserve so I always make the effort to get out there and see them. This made Crimson Peak a must see and while I wouldn’t put it amongst his best, it certainly doesn’t ruin his streak in my eyes.
Crimson Peak’s advertising, at least what little I saw, seems to largely be touting this as a ghost movie. Let it be known, and the movie itself even makes this clear up front, it isn’t really that. This isn’t a ghost story, it’s a story that happens to have a ghost in it. To be honest, if you stripped out all of the ghostly elements, the story would still hold together largely the same. But I mean if you can add a ghost to your story you should always do it, so I’m glad the ghosts are here. Also they are incredibly well done, featuring unique designs that doesn’t even attempt to make them look like humans.
Mia Wasikowska is Edith, an aspiring writer who falls in love with Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) a down on his luck guy who oversees a clay mining operation with his weirdo sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). After getting married, he takes Edith back to live with them in their weird old gothic house that may or may not have ghosts running around. Nefarious business ensues.
I will come right out and say that the story is absolutely not the highlight here. There’s an interesting mystery at its core, but even still the whole thing is rather slight. I could summarize all of the major happenings in a sentence or two and afterward you may think to yourself “that’s it?” Crimson Peak is absolutely a shining example of style over substance, but when there is this much style I find it hard to be too upset.
Everything about the look of this movie is top notch. From the costuming to the sound to the look of the period (early 20th century, 1901 I believe) is as detailed and imaginative as I have come to expect from a Del Toro movie. Most impressive is the Sharpe house itself. It captures the gothic aesthetic perfectly and features some truly remarkable set design. The house is largely falling apart, with gaping holes in the ceilings and clay from the mines seeping up out of the ground. It’s a fantastic creation and I really hope these elements are appropriately recognized once the Academy Awards roll around.
I’ve never been huge on Wasikowska in the past but she does remarkably well here, giving you a character to root for that could have come off as bland were it not done properly. The highlights though are definitely Hiddleston and Chastain as the Sharpe siblings. It was a nice change of pace to see Hiddleston (who I will admit I’m mostly familiar with because of Loki) play nice and Chastain play evil and they are both fantastic. It was also nice to see Charlie Hunnam getting to use his proper English accent after his not entirely successful go at an American accident in Pacific Rim.
I could see some people feeling a little misled by the advertising for Crimson Peak as, at least the ads that I’ve seen, they definitely lean harder into the horror and ghost elements. The truth is that many of the “big” ghost moments that the trailers and commercials show happen in the first small chunk of the movie. Personally I didn’t feel that took away from anything as the ghosts are just the icing on top of a great looking movie that perhaps could use a little bit more meat on its story. I would say this is worth checking out before it’s likely, and unfortunate, quick departure from theatres.