reviewed by Tom-Tom
I had waited for a decent Del Toro film since Hell Boy 2. I went through almost his entire English and Spanish speaking backlog in anticipation while he thanklessly put his energy into producing The Hobbit Trilogy just to have Peter Jackson come back at the last minute and screw everything up. Well, at least it looked beautiful. Now, he departs from his typical thriller, sci-fi, horror, to a Gothic Romance. I know, I had the same reaction. There he goes wasting his considerable talent once again. I’m here to tell you, “No, he hasn’t.”
For one, his direction is sharper than it’s ever been with scenes cut to the bone always panning, always moving yet full of high class and intelligent dialogue. For another one, we have the always charming Tom Hiddleston with his double edged grin and piercing eyes to sweep us off our feet as along with the lead Mia Wasikowska, whom you may remember as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. She plays her part as an innocent ingenue debutante with a flair for writing quite well. However, if you thought this was a hoity toity well dressed affair with only snappy dialogue as its weapon, you’ve obviously never seen a Del Toro picture. Here there be ghosts and rather creepy ones as well, each with a tale to tell and a sign to scream. There is also bloody violence which is so removed from the posh settings as to be rather more shocking than without.
Hiddleston is Sir Thomas Sharpe, a baronet from England who befriends Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing while attempting to find investors for his clay mining invention. We know Hiddleston is not the type to play a wholesome prince on a white horse, so we judge something is awry. Sharpe’s sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), always in attendance is also a dark presence, merely distant at first and aggressively belligerent later.
No gothic piece is complete without a dilapidated manor or castle and Crimson Peak is no exception. Allerdale Hall is a masterpiece of creaky stairs, hidden cellars, rotten flooring, creeping damp. Oh and ghosts, too.
As must happen, the mystery unravels in an unhurried but increasingly creepy spiral. The tell is well told without cheap scares and with a bloody finale which is almost satisfying in its suspenseful, shocking way. Something feels a bit left out but the journey is wonderful. This film definitely has joined my snowy horror series along with The Thing, and Let the Right One In. Don’t come expecting only scares or only romance. Crimson Peak is a tale in the style of an older, crueler time but with cushy, classy dialogue.