Review: ‘Crimson Peak’ Uses the Horror Genre To Tell A Captivating Story







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Posted November 6, 2015 by

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Guillermo del Toro is one of the best at creating worlds, delivering characters with a lot of depth, and using cinematography and scenery to create the tension for his films. His version of the horror genre relies on his characters bringing the chills and thrills as opposed to the ghosts that often inhabit the same space, and ‘Crimson Peak’ is no different. While there are supernatural things at work in this story, the horrific things people are capable of is more of the focus. When you begin this film, please do not think it’s your classic ghost story; del Toro doesn’t do those. In the beginning of the film, he actually tells you that flat out, trying to temper your expectations for the things that go bump in the night. Our heroine, Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), has written a novel that everyone keeps calling a ghost story. Correcting them, she says, ” It’s not [a ghost story]. More a story with a ghost in it. The ghost is just a metaphor.” The same is true with the actual film that story is in.

When a young British man comes into town trying to make good on the American dream, Edith is instantly taken with him; much to her father’s chagrin. Where Mr. Cushing (Beaver) has worked his way up from humble beginnings into the wealthy man he has become, this visitor Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) is seen as a class beneath them just looking for a handout. Mr. Cushing doesn’t like the young man for more reasons than that, but he can’t place his finger on why. Despite all of that, however, Sharpe is persistent when it comes to seeing the young Edith and sweeping her off her feet. Against her father’s wishes, the two end up getting married and retreat to Thomas’s childhood home (a large castle of a house that has been falling apart for years and years; the roof being completely non-existent as snow falls onto the floor of the foyer) where they live with his sister Lucille (Chastain) — a quiet woman in public and a force to be reckoned with behind closed doors that doesn’t take too kindly to the new guest.

‘Crimson Peak’ is about one woman’s love for a man that may not be what he says he is and how that love will be threatened if she figures out what is really going on. Don’t worry; ghosts are popping in and out the whole time this is going on; driving the story forward in their own way. Around every corner of this rundown mansion is another secret, the question is whether Edith will be able to figure it all out before it’s too late.


Despite my warnings, people will inevitably still go in expecting an unsettling ghost story where apparitions are jumping out from dark corners, hovering above a person that is sleeping, and haunting young Edith. I will say again, while some of that is happening, it’s not the focal point of the story. It’s not about the ghosts so much as it is about the drama and fantastic storytelling they’re supporting. If you are able to move past that and accept it for what it is, you will be seeing what is possibly one of the better movies of the year. The whole time I was watching it, it felt like classic literature with a modern horror twist thrown in to give it its own unique feel.

Fantastic acting from Wasikowska and Hiddleston. When these two were on the screen, it was impossible to look away. They suck you right into the story and make even the most mundane of conversations thrilling. Chastain and Hunnam aren’t the main characters, but both add an interesting dynamic in their own way and almost steal the movie with their performances. Chastain really impressed me in this film as she shows the audience a character they wouldn’t necessarily think she would play; that is until now. Probably one the most tense and impressive performances in a film in quite a while.

del Toro continues to bring forth creative and interesting stories that scare you in ways you weren’t expecting. ‘Crimson Peak’ is a must-see and definitely one I can’t wait to watch again.





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