Movie Review: Crimson Peak

Bearing similarities to 1999 film The Sixth Sense, Crimson Peak features lots of ghosts that are ghastly, no doubt, but surprisingly not the point of the film. The use of the color red to denote the presence of these earthbound spirits was another thing they had in common. Of course, this nod to another movie that grossed a whopping US$293 million [S$408.4 million] at the box office isn’t a bad idea, especially when that is arguably the highest grossing horror movie of all time.

While the trailer may give you the mistaken impression that this is another The Woman In Black, Del Toro’s Crimson Peak is actually a gothic romance that has certainly lived up to the Mexican director’s reputation with horror, but fallen a bit flat on the romance side.


The story centers around Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a bright aspiring writer swept off her feet by the charming Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English businessman in New York to pitch his invention to her wealthy father. After a whirlwind romance of a few days, Edith falls in love. However, this happiness is short-lived for her dad is brutally murdered just before Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) are bound for home. With no family left in New York, Edith moves to England with the siblings to their residence, Allerdale Hall, hoping to start anew.

Little does she know that this isn’t the start to a chapter of marital bliss, but one of regular hauntings, jump scares, and distrust for her new family who seems to be hiding some deadly secrets from her.

In spite of its ‘horror’ genre classification and the producers’ insistence to hold release until Halloween season, the film turns out to be less scary than you’d think. Sure, the ghosts do exactly what you’d expect spirits to do to Edith – haunt her, claw at her, chase her and make cryptic threats. However, in a twist of events, over time the ghosts stop becoming menacing, and instead become Edith’s greatest asset in finding out what her new husband is keeping from her.


What stole the show for UrbanWire was Del Toro’s ability to transport modern viewers to not just another time period, but a place straight out of our fantasies, a talent he has shown before in another one of his films, Pan’s Labyrinth. No detail was too small, be it the large Victorian-era mansion, the elaborate gowns or even the dead bees on the dressing counter; Del Toro ensured that everything was eerie, but still visually breathtaking. The mood and atmosphere of the film were established very well too, with great lighting and a well-balanced mix of Victorian melodies composed by Fernando Velázquez, who had previously worked on the music of The Orphanage and Mama, both also produced by Del Toro. We’re still dying to get our hands on the soundtrack.

Del Toro has already shown us with works such as The Devil’s Backbone, that he has a knack for making good horror movies. With his decade-long background in special effects, Del Toro, upped the ante in this movie by merging the 2 separate methods of creating spectral creatures- using real life actors with computer-generated imagery (CGI) to add ultra-realism to his ghosts. These ghouls nearly had us jumping out of our seats each time they appeared onscreen.


After having such positive things to say about the production value of this film, we wish the same could be said about the story’s character development, which only starts gaining traction when we’re nearly through with the film. Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) is a sadly lackluster and forgettable character, being nothing more than the Edith’s best friend whose love for her is unrequited, and her ‘knight in shining armor’ when she’s in harm. Our biggest disappointment, however, is seeing Hiddleston’s character get sidelined and stepped on by his older sister for the entire first half. After being so used to his Loki character from The Avengers, we feel that Thomas would have been a more riveting character if the story had explored his point of view more. He definitely deserved more time to shine than in the last 15 minutes of the movie.


Chastain is our pick for ‘Best Performance’. The actress, who took home the Golden Globe award for her role in Zero Dark Thirty, steals the show in every scene that she is in. Lucille’s cold demeanor and overpowering presence gave us goose bumps (coincidentally the title of another Hollywood horror due for release this Halloween season) each time she appeared. Her portrayal of a misunderstood woman who, beneath her cold and harsh demeanor, desperately craved for love, was delivered perfectly.

Despite the plot’s flimsiness and shortcomings, we have to say the tragic ending still managed to tug at our heartstrings, even if just a little bit. Crimson Peak was more than your average horror movie after all, though we have to say, if Del Toro’s vision was to have this as a gothic romance with horror elements rather than a horror movie, it wasn’t the most well-executed love story. Sadly, beauty isn’t enough to make a film great.

Let us know what you thought of Crimson Peak in the comments below!

[xrr rating=3/5 display_as=textstars label=”Our Rating:”]



Release Date: 15 October 2015

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: NC16 – Some Violence

Genre: Horror

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Cast:  Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver