Review: Crimson Peak


I live in a town with no movie theater. We used to have one. Then everything went super duper digital, and the people running the tiny theater couldn’t afford the new equipment, and that was that. I said that to say I’m never up on new movies anymore. The closest movie theaters to me are thirty minutes in either direction. It’s become a hassle. I’m one of those people now. Forever waiting for DVDs and Blu-Rays. So if you’re looking at this review and going, “wow, real current there, Quill,” my response is, “hey! …shut up.”

Crimson Peak is the most recent outing of Guillermo del Toro. It’s a gothic tale about a haunted house, grisly murders, and an unfolding mystery. We follow Edith (Mia Wasikowska) as she heads to her destiny with said haunted house and unravels the clues. Right out of the gate she’s a fantastic lead. She’s an every-woman with some extra flourishes that flesh her out and give her some good depth. I found myself rooting for her the whole time, and it’s part of what kept me glued to my screen.

Rounding things out, we have Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), a mysterious duo with a boatload of secrets. Also, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) who has “Jonathan-Harker-esque hero” written all over him. And because I simply have to mention it, Jim Beaver plays Edith’s protective father. I’m always glad to see him pop up. While it’s easy to pigeonhole these characters into easy categories, as I have for the benefit of the reader, they’re not cliches. There’s some really interesting gender role reversal going on with Thomas and Lucille. Alan is a very savvy guy that I wish there’d been more of. These roles are what they need to be but also more. It’s what makes the movie feel so rich.

Well, that and the setting. My God. This thing is a feast for the eyes. Del Toro always brings the fantastic monsters, and the ghosts here are some of the most disturbing I’ve ever seen. Rest assured a couple of those ghosts were Doug Jones, meaning they have all that creepy movement and wonderful awfulness you look for in a monster. The house itself is like a dark wonderland, falling apart at the seams with a huge hole in the roof, which allows it to snow inside the house. Sinking deep into red clay that makes it appear as if blood is seeping up from the floor and running down the walls. It’s gorgeous. Even if this doesn’t sound like your thing, this is one to enjoy simply as art.

Does this movie have downsides? Barely, but the one I’d call out is a very personal thing. I’m a very observant viewer. I’ve also read widely and watched a lot of movies. Little gets past me. So I was never really shocked by revelations that came later in the film. That’s not to say other viewers won’t be. This is something that I tend to go through, so it wasn’t one of those films I could crow about on the grounds that it caught me off guard with its mysteries.

I can say that it pulled a very strong, positive reaction out of me. It’s Poe-esque, with its sinking mansion, howling ghosts who serve as warnings, and pale, brooding characters. Edith is the perfect audience surrogate if you’re a sensitive type who likes to write and enjoys intrigue. I thought her journey was very powerful. I fangirled. What else can I call it? It left me fangirling, which doesn’t happen that often anymore. So of course I want to scream from the hilltops now that everyone should watch this.

I’ve had a very up-and-down relationship with Guillermo del Toro and his films. I loved Mimic and Hellboy. Blade II and Hellboy II were disappointments. Pan’s Labyrinth was beautiful but left me feeling hollow with its nihilistic message. So it feels nice to be back on his bandwagon and waiting for his next project. Also, I need to watch Pacific Rim. Damn my lack of a movie theater.

Thank you for reading, and as always, happy geeking!

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