If there is one standout thing about Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, it is its gothic gorgeousness. It is visually so stunning—it is the most beautiful horror film I have ever seen. It is so gorgeous, it almost broke my heart out of sheer gorgeousness.
If you like the production design of the films Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow, and you have a thing for the era and feel of TV show like Penny Dreadful you will surely have a sudden soft spot for the aesthetics of Crimson Peak. The work of production designer Thomas Sanders, art director Brandt Gordon and costume designer Kate Hawley (whose work you will also see soon in Suicide Squad) is dark, exquisite, impeccable.
Across the board, audiences are likely to agree on the outstanding design and visuals, but they may differ on the plot. Perhaps some may seek more bang for the buck, more action and roller coaster type thrills. The pacing of Crimson Peak comes closer to that of the old Vincent Price-Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and to that of the Hammer Horror films. There are indeed elements of Edgar Allan Poe and old school horror films in the story: solitude, isolation, ghosts, a cursed family, the decay of things and places once grand, happy and beautiful, madness and hints of Victorian elegance. All the things I enjoy, done right.
The ghost effects were superbly executed—forget the white floating thing, forget the transparent human or zombie like images that offer sudden jolts. These ghosts are often floaty, skeletal and some remind me of Dia De Los Muertos statues, melting candles and the smoke that comes from the candles.
The cast is excellent—though Tom Hiddleston, absolutely nails it as the mysterious, brooding, troubled but sometimes charming Thomas Sharpe. After playing Loki and pale rock musician Adam in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, you know he’s going to be absorbing for this one. The in demand Jessica Chastain (welcome back from Mars) is also excellent as Lucille Sharpe3 and Hiddleston’s Only Lovers Left Alive co-star Mia Wasikowska is our Alice setting foot in a wicked wonderland.
Pacific Rim alum Charlie Hunnam and Burn Gorman also star as Dr. Alan McMichael and private investigator Holly. Guillermo del Toro favorite Doug Jones (Hell Boy’s Abe Sapien, Pan’s Labyrinth’s Fauno) is also here—though it took a while for me to figure out which one he was.
Add a rainy night and your favorite treats and you are all set for the month that culminates in Halloween.
* * *
Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak opened last Wednesday October 14 and is available in 3D and 2D formats.