Film Review – Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak movie poster

Crimson Peak

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam

Review by Jordan

Frequently during my viewing of Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro’s 9th and worst film, I found myself wondering why it wasn’t Hellboy 3 I was viewing instead, and where from the farthest recesses of the renowned director’s mind could the thought of occurred that making this arduous experience was a good idea.

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is a hopeful author haunted by the specter of her dead mother, who creeps and slithers through the hallways and rooms of her daughters home to warn her to beware of the mysterious Crimson Peak. This ghost inspires Edith to write her own novel, and when enigmatic stranger Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) takes interest in it as well as the young dreamer herself, she throws caution to the wind to marry him and live in his decaying Allerdale Hall in England, where if the ghosts and sinking mansion aren’t enough to disturb her, his obsessive, pianist sister will be. 

In this mansion is where the majority of the horror elements and intrigue are supposed to be found, but ultimately this film are about as scary as the Halloween dress-up section of a family department store, and the plot as interesting as staring at the details in the brick wall on which the cinema screen is placed (something I found myself doing on multiple occasions), with the end result then made all the more baffling when one also considers the array talent  in front of the camera, who appear to have deliberated at some point during production and agreed that they’d all act poorly so as to save Jessica Chastain all the embarrassment.

I’m of course exaggerating some elements, but I can’t stress enough my disappointment. With every attempted scare comes an inexcusable assault to the eardrums, the dim color scheme emboldened by ever present splashes of red, blue and emerald green is over-stylized to recent Tim Burton levels and we get presented with a heroine whose decision making and reactions to ghostly encounters are the very reason the horror genre is marginalized.

Del Toro is one of the finest directors of fantasy with macabre flavorings in the business, and his eye for creative detail has never been questioned; Cronos is a brooding, mature vampire fable, Pan’s Labyrinth is devastating yet beautiful and Hellboy II: The Golden Army deserves to be recognized as one of the finest and funnest comic book adaptions ever made. These films have elements of horror but don’t rely on frights to satisfy an energetic audience, but rather an involving world and journey, and it’s this combination that Crimson Peak should’ve too aspired to instead of serving up lackluster shocks and a plot as dreary as the grey skies it takes place in.

An important character has his head pulverized on a bathroom sink and is found dead lying in a pool of his own blood, and in a moment of inspiration the local doctor suspects that something doesn’t quite seem right… I’m clearly not as smart as the Buffalo mortician, but I too believe that something doesn’t quite seem right with this movie.

1.5 obvious metaphors out of 5

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44 responses to “Film Review – Crimson Peak (2015)

  1. I saw it too! I’m writing up a review later in the week for it – my tl:dr is basically ‘I liked it but it had many problems.’

    Great write-up!

  2. I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t as good as it could have been (see my write up if you’re interested). I do have a theory that everything that happened could be explained by everyone’s collar being way too tight, though…

    • Hey Maria! I really wish it had’ve picked one theme to focus on instead of not really succeeding under any category. It’s certainly more fantasy than anything though.
      Jordan

  3. Ouch! And to think we might have had At The Mountains Of Madness instead. Or maybe thats just as well. Better to dream what might have been than have it dashed by the reality of another lousy Lovecraft movie.

  4. I still want to see it, mostly because of the visuals and my love of gothic, but after reading the reviews my expectations are definitely lowered in the story/characters department.

  5. Damn all the reviews seem quite low..i had really high expectations for this one. Plus it has Charlie Hunnam in it!
    Thanks for the review 🙂

  6. I wasn’t expecting much from it at all, so was delighted to find it so *funny*! The whole cinema was in hysterics, eg the moment when Tom Hiddleston tried to console his wife by telling her he was taking her on a trip to the Post Office, lots of the violence was greeted with gales of laughter because it was all so motiveless and unlikely, the terrible, terrible “Northern” accents… I was still laughing today with the memories.

    • Haha that is fantastic. I quite liked the ghost at the end dramatically saving the day by standing still and doing nothing before fading into memory. That was touching…
      Jordan

  7. I actually liked it a lot. I was disappointed it wasn’t scary at all but for me this movie was so literary and just like the most uber gothic victorian novel come to life and I’ve wanted a movie like that for so long. It’s not deep, it’s predictable, it’s not original but it’s so fun and deliciously weird and creepy. I walked out satisfied feeling it was pretty okay but wishing it’d been terrifying but as the days have passed I’m loving it more and more and will probably see it again. Unfortunately nobody else is going to see it and I hear it’s flopped and that only bothers me because I don’t want Guillermo to stop making things like this because of that.
    Hunnam was the biggest issue for me since his accent is so non-American and strange and he seemed dull and lifeless.
    By the way, I’m from Buffalo & we all cheered, cornily, as that “Buffalo NY” came on screen.
    Sorry you didn’t enjoy it! I think people are taking the movie too seriously.

    • “just like the most uber gothic victorian novel come to life and I’ve wanted a movie like that for so long” … i can so fully relate to what you have said here. Such movies are so rare and it is easy to see why because they don’t have much of an audience and they tend to flop at the box office and they are very expensive to make .. i will also try to see it again just because i am afraid we won’t get another such movie again anytime soon.

      • Hi Lilith–we’re on the same page=) I still haven’t seen it again but would love to this week. When movies like this don’t fare well I’m afraid it’s another nail in the coffin on similar future movies. Part of what’s so perfect about Guillermo is that he’s such a superfan and that shines through in his filmmaking. Crimson Peak may get so-so reviews and love now but it will be such a gem in twenty years when nothing in movies is handmade. I’d write more but I think I’m getting repetitive. I love that you loved it too!

      • Sure I’ll go read it, thank you. I love Jordan and Eddie’s reviews too though–they are never condescending and always funny even if they didn’t like a movie and I did.

  8. Good review Jordan. It sometimes felt like, to me, this story didn’t really know where it wanted to go. It got better at the end, but that was after quite some time of relentless plodding.

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