Quite a few people ended up rather disappointed by Guillermo del Toro’s most recent cinematic outing, and while a) I’d agree that it’s no match for his previous masterpieces (like “Pan’s Labyrinth”) and b) I also expected a rather different (and especially a lot more scary) movie, I guess it was easier for me to accept this and to just go with what we ultimately got, than it was for many others.
Yes, I wouldn’t have minded a scarier and more terrifying movie that would have been closer in tone to his previous horror films. But supposedly, that’s just not what he was going for here. Instead of repeating himself, he wanted to present an oldfashioned gothic romance, and as far as those go, “Crimson Peak” is a quite successful entry in that genre. As was already apparent from the trailers, its biggest strength was del Toro’s eye for visually stunning scenes and hauntingly beautiful images. From the contrast of the white snow with the red ground, the gorgeous costumes, the haunted mansion, the great art direction and set design, the very well designed (and realised) ghosts, and of course Fernando Velázquez’ beautiful camera work, “Crimson Peak” was incredibly pretty to look at. I also loved its cast. Mia Wasikowska never seizes to amaze me, slipping into every role as if it would fit her like a perfectly custom-made dress, never playing the same role twice, and here once again proving what an incredibly versatile actress she is. Her character might not be especially interesting, but her performance was great. Nevertheless, Jessica Chastain gets to play the much meatier role, absolutely relishing in it. Tom Hiddleston also does very good work with a complicated character. Only Charlie Hunman paled a little bit in comparison, but that might have been more due to his role than his performance itself. The story might not be especially new, and certain twists were painfully obvious, but it’s told quite well, and never ceased to entertain me. And even though it never really managed to scare me (maybe because its obvious very soon that the ghosts aren’t the real threat here?), del Toro nevertheless occasionally proves that he knows how to create suspenseful scenes. Nevertheless, the story isn’t really that complex and/or interesting, and thus doesn’t stand a chance compared to, for example, “Pan’s Labyrinth”. Making it a little bit more scary also wouldn’t have hurt. And there’s one particular scene during the showdown that, in my opinion, totally killed the mood, and was more unintentionally funny than anything else. However, if you know beforehand what you’re getting yourself into, and are a fan of gothic romance stories, you should find a lot to enjoy here.