Word of mouth plays a substantial role in the horror industry, I find myself having a number of conversations with friends or colleagues at work with the same passion for the genre talking about any number of upcoming or already released films. I can remember seeing the trailer for Crimson Peak and thinking that ‘this looks amazing’, like an old school haunted house chiller then it sort of fizzled out completely off the radar, never really spoken about until it made its way on to DVD.
For the most part I can see why, rather than being the horror I initially thought CP to be its more a dark gothic tale focused upon romance and storytelling. There are of course horror elements dotted throughout the film but are never really intended to scare (in my opinion) more to add intrigue and mystery to the plot.
Crimson Peak is set in the Victorian Era, Edith Cushing an aspiring author lives with her father, the mother long deceased. The family has clear wealth but Edith is a strong independent woman determined to carve out her own path in life. She meets Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) an entrepreneur from England looking for backers for his project to create a clay mining machine. Edith is immediately drawn to Thomas and after the tragic murder of her father decides to marry Thomas and move to England with Thomas and his sister Lucille. Its rural Cumberland and a culture change from the silver spoon treatment back home, the manor house is dilapidated and literally falling to the ground, slowly decaying and being swallowed from the red clay foundations below.
Slowly Edith starts to discover the dark history behind the house and more so of what Thomas is hiding with his devious sister. She is given ghostly warnings from previous victims but it’s up to her to uncover the truth. The plot stays on the straight and narrow from the start really although there is a minor plot twist, there’s nothing revolutionary but it’s all very well done. What’s disappointing is how Edith is portrayed once she arrives in the mansion in England, back home she is clearly an intelligent strong woman that has drive and knows what she wants but when she moves in to ‘Allerdale Hall’ completely crumbles, hopefully this was purposeful and not an oversight, maybe it is supposed to show the house consuming her spirit and the dread that she is going through?.....
The few elements of gore are actually fairly savage for a film that really isn’t made with the red stuff in mind, it certainly adds a lot more depth to the brutality of the film when we spend most of the time not seeing a great deal and then the odd scene of violence. The death of Edith’s father is particularly brutal, obviously this film was never set out to be a horror or gore film but with effects like the teasers that are given it’s a damn shame it’s not!
Crimson Peak excels in its visual mastery (which is what you would expect with Del Toro being at the helm), I’m a huge fan of the Victorian Era and every shot has been perfectly put together down to the finest of details. Sets are truly amazing especially everything shot in Allerdale Hall, the roof caved in letting in leaves and snow, the walls and floors bleeding from the clay that is consuming the house, incredible!
A handful of parts from the film do remind me a little of ‘Mama’ especially some of the ghost sequences, they have a ‘fantasy’ element to them rather than one of horror. Which again is to be expected for the Del Toro fans, I’m sure there is a few nods to his other films in the mix also.
Overall Crimson Peak can be recommended to any fans of gothic themed thrillers. The plot is not complex meaning it’s fairly easy viewing and as it’s been fantastically shot. Throw in some Grade A acting from the entire cast and it makes CP a great evening watch.