Crimson Peak is currently being hailed as Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece by critics and fans alike, and it is easy to see why. With stunning visual displays of colour, beautiful costume and set design, and a main cast to match, this Gothic Romance is definitely one to watch this October.
The casting was perfect and although all performances deserve credit, none deserve it more than Jessica Chastain. Chastain made Lucille Sharpe frightening, her cold exterior was chilling to watch and as the plot began to unravel, so did her character, switching to an emotional, yet methodical performance. The characters contrasting traits were balanced perfectly, making Chastain’s performance that much more intense and terrifying. Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska both gave solid performances that really draw you into the story, but opposite Chastain they could easily be overlooked.
No Gothic inspired film would be complete without a twisting narrative, and Crimson Peak is no exception. This is not a film for a passive audience, stop paying attention and you either miss vital information or revelations that have dramatic (and often brutal) consequences. Although the starting pace was slow, things soon heat up with a climax that will leave many open mouthed. Surprisingly the narrative was the weakest component of the film, although the plot was good, other elements were just more attention grabbing.
Aesthetically, Guillermo del Toro has created a set design that wouldn’t seem out of place at an art Gallary because visually the film is simply stunning. From costume design to special effects, everything has been meticulously considered, did this film put style over substance? Possibly – but Crimson Peak is something to be admired. Combine all of the above with a creepy, unnerving soundtrack and you have an atmosphere that leaves you uncomfortable and squirming in your seat. Little is left to the imagination and although the gore can be uncomfortable for more sensitive viewers, generally it only adds to the films beauty. Even the house bleeds, giving it a living, breathing soul which is beautifully melancholic, and wickedly dark.
Dubbing Crimson Peak as a horror would not only be inaccurate, but an attempt to dumb down a complex concept by squeezing it into a neat box. Although certain elements fall flat, as a package Guillermo del Toro has created something quite special that shouldn’t be missed.
Words by Melissa Churchill