Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam
After watching the trailer for Crimson Peak and recognizing the storyline, I really wasn’t expecting much from this film. Even after seeing it opening weekend, my initial opinion didn’t change. At certain moments I enjoyed it, but it is not a horror flick that really stood out to where I would want to see it again.
Struggling with the death and ghostly appearances of her mother throughout her life, Edith Cushing is an aspiring writer with a fictional fascination of ghosts stories. After coming across an Englishmen by the name of Thomas Sharpe who takes a heavy interest in her work, she begins to fall for him despite the warnings from her father and childhood friend, Dr. Alan. When she decides to wed Thomas and move to England with him and his sister Lucille, she begins to see ghostly figures again throughout Thomas’ childhood house as she begins to uncover to truth of the spiritual presence throughout the manor.
Violent Content: A number of very gruesome stabbings and brutal beatings, primarily with the face.
Language/Crude Content: One F word.
Sexual Content: Edith and Thomas engage in sexual intercourse to where some nudity is shown. Another sexual scene does not reveal anything but can be heard through walls.
Drug/Alcohol References: None.
Negative Content: From small things such as manipulating others to gruesome stabbings, there is a number of negative content throughout the film.
Positive Content: Despite the past and scarring decisions, characters portray some redemptive acts and qualities.
Spiritual Content: Very dark spiritual content throughout, from the haunting of black spirits to bloody red spirits taunting Edith. The spirits take on gruesome looks based on how they died when they were once human, making their appearance very disturbing.
Director Guillermo del Toro has a film history that revolves around spirituality and mystical figures, from his 2006 film Pans’ Labrynth to the FX television series, The Strain. There is only so much one can do with a horror-based plot considering that most are very typical in their premise and story lines.
The plot of Crimson Peak was enjoyable in regards to the film time period. The era gave the story the feel of a classic haunted house horror. The characters actually had depth unlike many of today’s typical horror film characters who are one-dimensional characters prone to getting themselves into trouble with dark spirits or at abandoned cabins.
Aside from the plot line, the visual and CGI effects greatly stood out throughout the film. The location and set design of the house itself added on to the dark tone, from how the lighting was done to the CGI spirits walking throughout the house, giving you icy chills down your spine at every glimpse.
Despite the different location and visual effects fitting well with the script, the execution of the characters’ portrayals is another story. While Edith is the main character, the relationship between Thomas and Lucille was more interesting due to that they both played off each other’s dialogue. Edith on the other hand honestly felt too dull at times, making it hard to believe she was thoroughly seeking the truth of the spiritual presence let alone being in love with Thomas.
The only reason I really invested my time into her and Thomas’ relationship was more because of Thomas himself as he carried the majority of the weight of it. I honestly was expecting more screen time of actor Charlie Hunnam, due to his recent filmography and past appearance in Del Toro’s films. It was understandable for other characters to have little screen time, but considering his character’s involvement with Edith as a childhood friend, he had hardly any spotlight. Any attention was rather short and could have been expanded on to make him more of a primary character.
For a film that is shelved in the horror genre, it was not as scary as its portrayal in the trailer. While there are a number of jump scare moments, there is not much more after that, giving it more of a thriller and drama feel than horror. If the spirits of the dead were taken out of this film, it really would not have made a significant difference due to the fact that the they did not play a significant role.
Horror films are normally based around spirituality, suspense, and violence. The film had suspense and violence down, but the spirituality was very shallow and short. To add on, the spirit of Edith’s mother played little to no part in the overall main plot. This confused me as to why the spirit whispered to her, “Beware of Crimson Peak,” as seen in the trailer.
Guillermo del Toro has made some very noteworthy achievements in his films. Crimson Peak however was not one of them. While the movie held up in visual effects, and plot line, the execution and writing itself could have been improved to make it really stand out as a horror film in today’s day and age. It was enjoyable for a first time watch, but there really is no a reason to watch it again, as it did not significantly stand out.
+ Strong visual effects + Stays on topic for a large amount of the film
- Uninteresting characters - Not enough screen time for certain main characters - Very little focus on the actual ghosts
The Bottom Line
Crimson Peak felt more of a thriller and a drama than a horror. While the plot was a classic take on a haunted house, the execution of it does not stand out amongst other horror films due to its slow pace and uninteresting characters.