2015 / Director. Guillermo Del Toro.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Fans of Guillermo Del Toro and fellow horror enthusiasts alike have been eagerly anticipating CRIMSON PEAK. It marks Del Toro's return to horror and with previous entries such as THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, CRONOS and PAN'S LABYRINTH as reference points, all signs pointed to a highly stylised and original haunted house film.
I am disappointed to report that CRIMSON PEAK is one hell of a boring, contrived and lacklustre film. Sure, it boasts an amazing lighting design which compliments an impressive overall production design, but the film lacks in almost every other area... most notably its story. Set in 1887 the plot follows a young American woman (Mia Waskikowska) who marries a mysterious Englishman and moves into his decrepit mansion that sits on top of a red clay mine in a remote area of England. Having been forewarned of “Crimson Peak” as a child by the ghost of her mother, the young woman finds herself amongst ghastly spectres and malevolent forces.
By all accounts CRIMSON PEAK is a classic ghost story. In fact it presents itself as a romantic gothic horror film and plays for the drama more than the horror. Sadly it's all so uninspiring and offers very little. The performances are okay, though not great, and the narrative is drawn-out and tedious. Good ghost stories rely on clever and salacious back stories and cash in on unexpected revelations... CRIMSON PEAK doesn't do that. Instead it's an insipid demonstration of style over substance and highlights Del Toro's fallibilities. He's a stunning film maker and so he's entitled this misfire, but fans wanting something special will be sorely disappointed.
Further insult to injury is the unfortunate use of CGI. For a film that featured so little actual paranormal activity they could have (should have) easily taken a practical approach to the ghosts and presented the audience with some truly shocking imagery. Instead we are tossed a few lame-looking digital spirits and some poorly aligned jump scares (you probably wont' jump) that are so deflating to witness.
Suffice to say there is nothing special about CRIMSON PEAK. The build up and anticipation was a whole lot of hoopla with an epic fail in its delivery. If you're the forgiving type then you might be able to find reward in the delicious colour schemes and impressive set designs... but that's really all it has to offer.