Crimson Peak – Horror Film of the Season?

My wife hates horror movies. “Hate” isn’t a strong enough word for it. She loathes, detests, and abhors horror films, regardless of the theme. It’s impossible to get her to watch anything resembling a zombie film, and some of the insane Japanese psychological horrors are way out, even if they are video games (puts a damper when I want to play some old school Resident Evil or try out something newer).

I can say I was pretty shocked when she asked me to take her out to see Crimson Peak, knowing that it was a horror-ish ghost story directed by Guillermo Del Toro, but take her out to see it was precisely what I did this weekend.

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==The Pitch==

The movie is a Gothic-inspired ghost story. The trailers don’t give much beyond seeing the cast in Gothic attire and that there’s ghosts. It’s a bit more than that, and as it’s a Del Toro, you know you’ll there will be some gorgeous work and a plot twist.

==What You Get==

Without spoiling the film (I’m a spoiler-free kind of guy): Crimson Peak tells the tale of a young woman named Edith Cushing in America who is visited by her mother’s ghost as a child, warning her to “Beware of Crimson Peak.”

Years later, when Edith is of age (and failing to get a book published), she meets a baronet from England, Sir Thomas Sharpe, and his sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe, who are seeking funding for a specialized digging machine as a means of making the mines under the house profitable again.

After a series of events (and another visit from Edith’s mother), Edith marries Thomas and heads to the Sharpe ancestral home in England.

From there, we get more visits from ghosts, unexplained circumstances (and things that are “explained” but feel like b/s because the audience knows there’s more to it), and a family history that is darker and more twisted than expected.

==The Good==

Unlike most horror movies, this film doesn’t focus on the horror implied by the ghosts. Yes, the ghosts play a solid role in the movie, but psychological horror comes up quite often as well.

One of the best parts of this film is the ambiance caused by the sets, costumes, and the cast members themselves. My wife, who holds a degree in Victorian Studies, fell in love with the house and the costumes used, and while watching the movie, it is easy to see why. It almost feels like the house itself is it’s own character at times with the sort of details provided.

The main room of the house. Wonderfully done ambiance throughout the film!
The main room of the house. Wonderfully done ambiance throughout the film!

Like almost everything else from Del Torro, there will be beautiful things. Like the aforementioned set, many other elements of the film were a beauty to behold. A bit unexpected for a horror film, but it still fit and made the film worthwhile.

My wife still claims that the best part of the movie, outside of the costumes and architecture, was the “sex scene,” which includes a moment of Tom Hiddleston’s naked rear. Not my thing, but my wife loved it.

==The Bad==

At times, I felt the ghosts were just bolted on to a much larger story. There were moments it seemed they were added in for a different film type (like a period drama), and other times it felt like the other film types were encroaching upon the ghost-themed story.

The ghosts, while providing an important point to the film, were often used for jump scares. In fact, a combination of ghosts, loud sounds, and music choice comprised of the majority of the jump scares, making the horror feel a bit cheap.

==The Verdict==

With Halloween around the corner, this is a good movie to see. It’s not as scary as the trailers would lead you to believe, but still has a few scares to scratch that itch. The atmosphere really brings this movie to life, and the actor selection helps as well. While it’s not a perfect movie (what is?), it’s well worth dropping the money to go see in theatres.

If you enjoy eerie films, physchological thrillers, great atmosphere, Del Toro’s artistic approach, suspense movies, the idea of a partly naked Tom Hiddleston, and classic, old-school ghost stories, you should put Crimson Peak on your list of films to watch this month. Even if horror movies aren’t your thing, you might want to reconsider if you like a good story with a gorgeous set.

If you hate the above, then I don’t know why you even read this far.

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