By Barbara Young —
I’ve always been a sucker for suave men, Victorian mansions, and eery premises. So it’s no surprise that I’ve wanted to see “Crimson Peak,” by Guilllermo del Toro since I first saw its promo on YouTube. In fact, I wanted to see it so badly I was even willing to go despite my hate for all things terrifying. The movie’s promos give the film a beautiful air of dark mystery, but I didn’t go into the film thinking it would have an amazing plot or story line. I expected an entirely average film with above average costume and set design. “Crimson Peak” met my expectations at every turn.
The movie opens with the introduction of our heroine, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and her ability to see ghosts. Edith is a very strong-minded woman who seems to hold strong opinions of the world around her and aspires to be a writer. Enter Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). Thomas sweeps Edith off her feet and into a whirlwind of emotions and tragic events. Eventually the two marry and head to Thomas’ dilapidated mansion where Edith’s ability to see ghosts reveals a sinister plot.
Let me list a few of the stunning aspects of this film in no particular order: ghost design, mansion architecture, costume design, cinematography, Hiddleston booty and all set design. For all of the average elements of this film, one category “Crimson Peak” excels in is design. The entire movie was beautiful to watch. However, aesthetics doesn’t make a movie. The plot has to be strong too.
It’s going to be tough while talking about the plot without giving away any spoilers. A large part of my general disapointment was that the film didn’t match the expectations from the trailer. “Crimson Peak” is a film that loses a lot of the suspense and uniqueness in the first half hour. All of the aspects of the film that were conveyed in the trailer that made the film look like a new age ghost story and horror mansion flick are explained away quickly, so that when you’re watching the actual scenes an hour into the film, you’re not scared so much as tense at the prospect of an impending jump scares.
I do appreciate that the movie did not go down the stereotypical haunted mansion theme, but I wish it had done it differently. We discover early on that the ghosts are not what we expected them to be, so it was curious to me when Edith remained terrified of them until the last few minutes of the film.
My biggest gripe though, is probably the silliest of all. The film uses circle fade outs. A lot. It got to the point that I would loudly exclaim in disappointment every time it happened and my roommate would snicker at my frustration. It was awful.
Overall the film was a good one-time watch, for me. It was beautiful, but slightly frustrating at the best of times and predictable at the worst. If you like old timey horror mansions give it a go, but don’t pay full price.