I had been meaning to watch this one for a while. Not only did it get some good reviews but I generally enjoy whatever Guillermo del Toro decides to make and with him behind both the script and directing; this was one I’ve been waiting for. Unrelated, I went to a Halloween Horror Night at Universal several years ago that had a Crimson Peak themed maze and I had no idea what the hell any of the stuff in there was but, having now actually seen the movie, I can appreciate it much more. Good job, Universal Studios.
The movie is a period piece set in the early 1900’s and centers around Edith, the daughter of a wealthy American business man. When a destitute British aristocrat comes looking for investors, he catches the eye of Edith and soon they are wed and move back to the very clearly haunted dilapidated mansion that he and his sister live in. The house has many ghosts within its walls but the spirits of the dead aren’t the horrors that await her.
As I would expect from del Toro, the movie is a visual delight. The use of color and contrast are used to heighten already tense moments and even the small background details do great work adding to the scene. The design of the ghosts are wonderfully realized and tied into the way in which they died. While the movie isn’t particularly a bloody one, what violence they do show is often jarring and graphic and the film doesn’t shy away from showing the gruesome aftermath. Rather than gore or jump scares, the movie relies mostly on some heavily atmospheric qualities to set the viewer ill at ease.
The acting throughout is top notch. It’s always a delight to watch Tom Hiddleston do basically anything and the interplay between Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska does a great job of delivering a lot of information that goes left unsaid. The only thing I think ends up feeling lacking is the end of the film. It feels a bit more disjointed than the rest of the movie and the characters start acting either extremely foolish or just downright out of character.
Overall, if you are a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work, you’ll probably enjoy this too. Not generally a concern but, if you also want a horror movie that’s on in the background of a Halloween party or something like that, this would be an excellent choice. The costuming, sets, and cinematography are all good enough that it’s perfect for setting a spooky mood without having to hear it.
Score: 4 out of 5