Title: Crimson Peak (2015)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Runtime: 119 minutes
Guillermo del Toro destroyed my world in 2006 with Pan’s Labyrinth, a film that I thought would be straight up horror, and instead was a completely different sort of tale, and I loved it. The trailers for Crimson Peak got me all wet and juicy. The film looked gorgeous, Gothic, and thrilling.
Imagine my utter disappointment when Crimson Peak took almost half of its two-hour runtime to even make it to the titular Crimson Peak. By that time we glimpse ghosts, they are exact scenes from the trailer. Not to spoil anything, but there are only two ghost moments not shown fully in the trailer, and both of those contain spoiler-like material, so it’s obvious why they weren’t shown.
Crimson Peak is a Gothic love story like every single one before it. A female writer is swept off her feet for the first time ever, after tragedy befalls her family. She gets whisked away to a castle in England where she stays with her new husband and his sister. She starts to see ghosts roaming around the place, and other happenings. What lies on the bottom floor of this castle where she has been warned not to go? It honestly doesn’t matter because the viewer will know everything twenty minutes before our heroine does.
This is a beautiful film. The set is eye-poppingly gorgeous. It’s haunting in its design, and the fact that the ground bleeds a red clay, giving the walls and ground a bloody look, is a fantastic idea.
Sadly, the rest of Crimson Peak is a total snoozefest. My expectations were high, but there are no jumps or scares to be had here. Every time the tension builds, it just dies a quick death. Not until the film’s final fifteen minutes does any sort of quick pacing take place, and it’s flat-out batshit crazy. With a strong performance given during those scenes I can see why this film is almost enjoyable. But does suffering through 105-minutes of utter mediocrity for a quick pay off justify the price tag of an IMAX ticket? Not really, no. And, for the record, the IMAX is incredibly lackluster.
The cast’s performances range from good to average. Mia Wasikowska’s weak female lead at times feels like a step back for this type of character, but then I reminded myself that this is a period piece, and as such it needs to follow the Jane Austen stereotypes we’ve come to know. Jim Beaver is the big surprise for me. I know him as Bobby on Supernatural, and his role here is strong and he gives a really solid performance. The sister, played by Jessica Chastain, is the real scene stealer, though, and gives a down right crazy ass performance like I’ve not seen on screen before.
Crimson Peak is a complete letdown. It’s predictable, way too slow, and the payoff, while decent in the final few minutes, just isn’t enough to say it’s worth dropping the cash to see it in the theater. The beautiful sets are the film’s highlight, and I can see some Oscar’s being won just for that aspect alone. The rest of the film feels like running through quicksand, but with less tension. Crimson Peak reminds me of The Woman in Black, except The Woman in Black had a some creepy bits in it, where Crimson Peak just has some awkward CGI ghosts.
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.