Crimson Peak has its occasional flaws, but is more than worth the watch for the look alone.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lost her mother at a young age and saw her ghost the night of the funeral. The experience has haunted her ever since, especially the words whispered by her spectral mother, "Beware of Crimson Peak."
Years later, Edith is living with her father and working for him as well. She dreams of becoming an author, but her local publishers show no interest in the ghost stories she's been writing. When a dignified and handsome aristocrat named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) arrives in her town, she is quickly fascinated by his charm and mystique. What appears at first to be a great romance quickly turns sinister for Edith, when she returns to Thomas' home; a crumbling mansion that sits atop a mountain composed of red clay, covered by a blanket of snow.
As if there could have been any other outcome, the visuals for Crimson Peak delivers in spades. Whether or not people are fans of Guillermo del Toro's stories, there's no doubting the dedication and impeccable style that he brings to each and every one of his films. What is truly remarkable about Crimson Peak is how clear it is that the stunning and spectacular look of the movie is actually real and not CGI. When I noticed this, I found it impossible not to marvel at the meticulous work that went into every moment of the movie. The look and style of the corridor in which Edith finds herself so often along with the contrast between the stark white of the snow and the richness of the colors around it were what captivated my admiration the most. Crimson Peak is a film that is hard to turn your eyes away from, because you are so entranced by each striking visual the film has to behold.
When it comes to making a period piece, the casting is one of the most crucial elements for turning the film from a mediocre attempt to a masterpiece. For Crimson Peak, I would say that overall, the choices for the actors were fairly well made. Tom Hiddleston easily slips into another time period with his elegance and manner, so there is no trouble in believing him to be from the late 1800s. I have seen Mia Wasikowska in more films based in the past than I have the present, so again, no fault to be found. At first, I was a little hesitant about Jessica Chastain, because she's very modern in my eyes, but I was pleasantly surprised with the chilling performance she gave as Thomas' unwelcoming sister. With this role, it was proven to me that she is able to tackle just about any role that is handed to her.
Oddly enough, for a ghost story, the actual phantoms were my least favorite part of the movie. Don't get me wrong, there were times where the spirits were certainly frightening, but I have learned from this film and a few others, that I am apparently very hard to please when it comes to making convincing and eerie ghosts. I find that I am more afraid of what I can't fully see compared to something that is shown head on. When Edith has a decrepit hand reaching around her shoulder in her sleep, that is unnerving enough to me to make my skin crawl, but when she is actually being chased by the malevolent spirits, not so much. Perhaps my practical brain is taking over and suddenly I have a hard time believing it once I actually see it, or maybe my imagination can concoct a ghost more horrifying than a movie can ever produce. Either way, Crimson Peak's moments of terror are far more sophisticated and well thought out than your average horror movie, and for that it is to be applauded.
Guillermo del Toro is a director whose work I have sadly not seen enough of, but my recent rewatch of Crimson Peak has solidified my thoughts that I definitely need to spend more time dedicated to seeing his films. It's rare to see a movie like Crimson Peak where you can practically forgive any blemishes it may have just because of its brilliant direction and design. For that it should be a must see for any fan of cinematography and film.