Crimson Peak, the new movie from Guillermo del Toro, is a great film provided that you are not looking for a horror movie. I understand your confusion given that it is being marketed as one. Like the main character Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) says about the book she is writing during the film, “it isn’t a ghost story, but a story with ghosts in it.” This is very much the case with Crimson Peak.
The movie follows plucky young author Edith as she is swept off of her feet by a British Baronet (Tom Hiddleston) and taken to a dilapidated mansion known as ‘Crimson Peak’. Also living in this mansion is the Baronet’s sister played by Jessica Chastain. There are secrets being kept by these two aristocrats, and Edith’s life may depend on her being able to figure them out. Oh yeah Edith can see ghosts, so there are a couple of ghouls in this movie.
When asked about the genre of this movie del Toro called it a ‘Gothic Romance’, and I think that is an apt description. Though maybe ‘Gothic Mystery’ may help the average movie goer know what to expect. That is not to say there aren’t a few good scares, or that Crimson Peak isn’t creepy. There are, and it is. They are just not the main focal point of this film. So if puffy sleeves and sleuthing sound good to you, than you will probably like what this film has to offer.
Another reason you may like this movie is its incredible set design and special effects. Crimson Peak is no doubt del Toro’s favorite character. Every square inch of the manor is covered in detail, and he is never in a hurry to cut away from showing off the bits and pieces of the house. The ghosts are horrifying looking, and they never look cheap or too CG’y. Guillermo del Toro is a visual wizard.
The actors all play their roles well. Considering the dialog is probably the weakest part of this movie, the actors are all able to pick up the slack and seem believable in the archetypal roles they are given. Jessica Chastain in particular is as hunting as any of the ghosts.
If you have seen any of Guillermo del Toro’s other ‘horror’ movies it won’t surprise you that Crimson Peak has more in common with Cinderella than The Exorcist. Guillermo treats his horror movies like dark fairy tales, and if that is what you want, I think you will love this film like I did. If you want jump scares, you will have to look somewhere else. It is a shame they couldn’t have marketed it that way.