Crimson Peak is a film for those who felt that the 1939 Wuthering Heights is one of the best films ever, except it needed to be in color and have a lot of blood.
Crimson Peak excels in many facet of filmmaking under the careful hand of director Guillermo del Toro. del Toro wrote the gothic romance screenplay with Matthew Robbins whose credits include The Sugarland Express and del Toro’s Mimic.
A combination of claustrophobic set design, extravagant costumes and sharp cinematography give the story a very grand Hollywood atmosphere. Meanwhile, ghosts that don’t jump out of the dark so much as they cling to the subconscious enhance the scare factor. The spirits are actually actors in costume that are then made transparent and embellished with smoke in post-production.
Set at the turn of the 20th century, first in America and then in England, CP posits that a brother and sister team is looking for funding for the brother’s invention, a machine that dredges red clay efficiently and produces a pure specimen that can be used to make very strong bricks. Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain (also in theaters in The Martian), Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston don’t just headline but totally inhabit their characters. You feel like you’ve been transported to the past.
The dark and foreboding nature of Victorian and fin de siècle sexual suppression comes more from Hiddleston’s character than the femmes. Hiddleston brings his new bride Wasikowska to live at the crumbling mansion where he and his sister (Chastain with dark hair and a dark nature) live. Part of the roof has collapsed and leaves and snow constantly rain down on the house’s interior. Meanwhile the red clay seeps upward and into the house, which itself is sinking in the red mired ground.
Horror effects are brief yet brilliantly realized. That’s going to leave a mark would be a good way to describe scenes where stabbings and blunt force trauma to the head are depicted. del Toro has a winner on his hands.
Crimson Peak was reviewed at the Edwards Marq*e IMAX theater and the film looked razor sharp and the colors were magnificent.
— Michael Bergeron