Guillermo del Toro (GDT) is certainly one of the most interesting directors working today, he is always involved in projects that catch the eye and imagination of his viewers. Already under his belt he has the Spanish language film Pan’s Labyrinth, the not so by the book superhero Hellboy movies and the all out robots vs monsters action flick Pacific Rim. Love him or hate him you can’t deny that GDT is ambitious and really tries to make his films exciting and engaging. So can GDT add another strong entry to his filmography in the shape of Crimson Peak?
Firstly I want to correct a promotional fault with the film, Crimson Peak is not a horror film. There are certainly elements of horror to the film much like Pan’s Labyrinth has too but there is much more to Crimson Peak than creepy ghosts and jump scares. If you go into this movie expecting an all out horror experience you will be disappointed. This isn’t a negative though I just wanted to straighten out the misrepresentation that the film is getting in its promotion. I’d say that the main genre’s of the film are drama and fantasy with some horror thrown in there but all in all the best way to describe it is a GDT film. Crimson Peak certainly always looks the part, which after films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim we’ve come to expect from this director. The film is set in the late 19th century made obvious by the attention to detail in the costume design and the locations the film shoots in. Adding to the authentic design of the film was the look of the ghosts and ghouls present in Crimson Peak always looking creepy but also visually appealing, enhancing the aesthetics of the film never taking away from them. This can often be an issues for films like this but this is never a problem here. I’ve already stated that the film isn’t predominately a horror film but there are certainly moments to be watched through fingers as there is the perfect amount of tension created to keep viewers on their toes without delving into the monotonous tropes of a fully fledged horror film.
The cast for the film are another reason for its success. Our leading lady is Mia Wasikowska, probably best known for her role as Alice (Alice in Wonderland). She is a good fit for her character and performs well. Her love interest is played by Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston. As you would expect Hiddleston brings his acting abilities to this role in abundance and again easily becomes his character. The other main male character is played by Charlie Hunnam, a previous collaborator with GDT in Pacific Rim. He has a smaller role that the other cast members but he works well in it. Finally we have Jessica Chastain playing Tom Hiddleston’s sister. Chastain steals the show for me, probably in every scene she features in all attention is on her. This is thanks to a well written character but also the often subtle skills, and then the not so subtle ones, showcased by Chastain, whether this was a disapproving glance or a line of dialogue with a hidden meaning she brilliantly brings her character to life. With performances in A Most Violent Year and The Martian already this year, Chastain has seriously impressed in 2015 and I’m very excited to see what the future holds for this actress.
Crimson Peak is a fantastic creation from GDT, which his cast perform in a most entertaining way. The mystery elements to the film are some of the best moments, and whilst the story isn’t anything mind blowing and maybe even a little predictable it never matters because what we do get is executed so well. All I would have wanted more of was some improved elements to the drama. Some character relationships needed more work to fit into the story with complete validity, if this had of been worked on more emotion could have been provoked from the audience. However, the often shocking violence may certainly provoke something from the audience, I really enjoyed this aspect!
Despite the few minor flaws Crimson Peak is still a wildly entertaining Gothic tale. Guillermo del Toro has once again impressed with his skill in creating a visual feast for the eyes but also a stimulating story for the viewers to enjoy. The cast are all good but if there is anyone else but Jessica Chastain on your lips after seeing this movie I don’t think we saw the same film. A great performance from her, top directing and a whole host of ghosts thrown in for good measure mean that Crimson Peak should be the top pick for anyone’s Halloween viewing this year!
Rating – 9/10