Directed by: Guillermo del Toro;
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska
It has been a couple of years since del Toro has released a film, Pacific Rim, and the story of giant robots fighting each other didn’t feel like a suitable use of del Toro’s talents. Since then, he has adapted his own book, The Strain, written with Chuck Hogan for television, and we have Crimson Peak, a return to horror on the big screen for the writer/ director. Del Toro does feel at home with horror and on paper, this gothic tale of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author who falls for Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), this seems like the perfect film for him. Of course, Sharpe has a terrible secret and the relationship between him and his creepy sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), appears to be a less than healthy one.
Crimson Peak is a very frustrating film: Visually it is staggering with del Toro and production designer Thomas E Sanders creating a lush and lavish world of extreme attention to detail, with Sharpe’s house Allerdale House created entirely on set in Vancouver. Hiddleston makes for a tragic, Byronic figure who can’t escape from the orbit of his twisted sister and Chastain is very good here, playing against type after a few films where she is the sympathetic protagonist. Wasikowska isn’t bad but she does feel out of her depth on occasion here. The big problem with Crimson Peak is that there isn’t enough actual horror here and so the two hour running time does outstay its welcome towards the end. It isn’t a bad film necessarily and we do have very well played moments, helped by Hiddleston and Chastain, but it is a film where so much time has been devoted to the visuals that it has forgotten that a classic horror film needs to shock and unsettle its audience and Crimson Peak doesn’t do this often enough. He obviously loves horror (protagonist Edith Cushing is a very deliberate nod to this) but it does lack something. So Crimson Peak is worth seeing if you’re a fan of del Toro but it could have done with a tighter script and more jumping out of your seat moments.