Crimson Peak: A beautiful film, not that scary

Short Review: Pretty good. Probably don’t need to see it in the theater, but worth a rental.

Long review: This one is a hard one to review because much of my criticism is of the plot itself which is slowly revealed throughout the film (I think I just described how a mystery works, wow) and I don’t want to give anything away.


But, let me start at the beginning. This is Guillermo del Toro film.  If you don’t know him by name then you know him by his work. He’s probably best known for the Hellboy movies, Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth. He also co-wrote the book trilogy The Strain and the television show and the screenplay for The Hobbit movies.


But he is also known for his pretty creepy, disturbing horror movies. Here’s some of my favorites of his:

  • Cronos is a classic which is in Hulu’s Criterion collection about a grandfather who runs an antique shop who accidentally becomes a vampire.

  • Devil’s Backbone is about an orphanage during the Spanish Civil war. An unexploded bomb sits in the center of the courtyard, rumors of gold hidden in the orphanage twist men to do horrible things, all the while a ghost of a dead boy roams the halls. Probably one of the most depressing movies I’ve ever seen, so much so that when the ghost shows up I’m almost relieved.

  • The Orphanage is also about, you guessed it, an orphanage. Looking into this one more it appears Guillermo del Toro didn’t direct or write this one but was Executive Producer. Still, a must watch.



First things first, this movie is beautiful. Set during the victorian times, the film pays close attention to detail of not only the costumes, building interiors and street settings, but also the ghosts and creepy other stuff as well.


I normally don’t look up the cinematographer but in this case I was compelled to and what I found did not surprise me. Not knowing him by name, but I do know Dan Lausten’s work. He is responsible for the look and feel of Brotherhood of the Wolf, Solomon Kane and Silent Hill.


If you’re not family with Silent Hill, it is perhaps one of the most creative horror movies in the last ten years when it comes to the visual feel of it, while at the same time being one of my least favorite horror movies because of the content (no need for rape in a horror movie, it’s creepy enough people). If you want to see a Silent Hill movie that is just as creepy and about the same caliber (so, not that great) feel free to settle for the sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.


However, Silent Hill did have some of coolest melting, bleeding, burning CG effects during the transition between day and night. This same attention to the environment is definitely present in Crimson Peak.


The main character, Edith Cushing, her new husband Thomas Sharp and his sister Lucille Sharp eventually settle into their family home which is a large mansion. The mansion is slowly sinking into red clay which is also creeping up into the walls of the building while at the same time the structure of the home is slowly deteriorating to the point that a hole in the ceiling of the main entry gives passage for snow during the winter. (the characters complain about the cold, yet often are walking around in simple night gowns...?)


The CG used for the ghosts is incredible almost to the point of distracting from the fear I was supposed to be having during the scenes where they appear. It would almost be worth a second watch just to take a look at the detail of the ghosts.


Unfortunately the beauty of the film is not matched by the plot or some of the acting. Mia Wasikowska, who plays Edith Cushing, is a bit too unemotional at times, but both Jessica Chastain (Lucille Sharp) and Tom Hiddleston (Thomas Sharp) are very good. (you know Hiddleston as Loki from Thor and Avengers).


If you’re looking for a creepy but not that scary horror flick that is very beautifully filmed, then this is the one for you.


Warning: Spoilers below






I won’t give too much away, but one thing I do enjoy about del Toro’s haunted movies is that the ghosts might be creepy and scary, but they are usually never the scariest things in the film and the true monsters are the living. The ghosts, sometimes, are there to help...but could they do in a way that doesn’t make us jump so much!

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