“Ghosts are real”

Crimson Peak is the latest film from director Guillermo del Toro, and one of his best movies in a while. If you were to look over his filmography, this movie is less like his English  language output (Pacific Rim, Hellboy, Blade II) and more in line with his Spanish language work (Pan’s Labyrinth,  The Devil’s Backbone) which is more than fine with me. I have enjoyed pretty much everything del Toro has directed, but this movie is relatively unique when compared to today’s current entertainment landscape.

The first question I had after watching Crimson Peak, was how would general audiences react based on what the advertising and trailers portrayed it as? This movie focuses less on the horror and more on the relationships. The characters are at the heart of the story, not the ghosts. That’s not saying the proceedings are devoid of del Toro’s artistic vision when it comes to the special effects and character designs, it’s just that one shouldn’t go into this movie expecting to see non-stop ghost action. If you’re not aware of the basic premise of this movie, here is the brief summary from IMDB:

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.

The movie stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam. All of the performances are strong, but Chastain is the standout as Lucille Sharpe. Her icy, determined, and slightly unhinged performance is one of the highlights of the film and continues the incredibly successful run that Chastain has been on for the past few years. The set design and locations are almost another main character as the visuals are amazing and really help inform the mood of the story. There aren’t many actual scares to be found, but the setting does instill a sense of foreboding and dread that something nasty will happen.

The big question, should you see this movie, all kind of boils down to what you’re looking for. If a gothic romance with horror on the fringes and amazing visuals sounds appealing, then you’ll want to check this out. If you want a fast paced haunted house movie that focuses more on the ghouls and scares, you’ll likely come away disappointed here. This is the type of horror film that we don’t get very often these days, and depending on the financial performance of the movie (due to its estimated budget of over $50 million) we may or may not get to see more like it in the future. I hope that the general audience can enjoy the movie for what it is, because this is a mode that I like seeing Guillermo del Toro operate in. Large budget movies with horror elements aimed at a more adult crowd would be a welcome sight in theaters, or they would be for me at least. For a more in-depth discussion of this movie, check out our upcoming podcast where this will be one of the movies discussed.