Crimson Peak (2015) Review

Crimson Peak is supposed to be a Gothic horror but what it demonstrates in Gothic it lacks in horror. You can’t fault the look, tone and feel of the movie but at no point does it effectively scare you. This doesn’t make it a bad movie, it just may disappoint those looking for a tense horror.

Crimson Peak makes up for this in an engrossing story. The tale is intriguing, keeping you hooked as the mystery of the English mansion and it’s occupants comes to light. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, with simple revelations and moments of tension, which may raise the pulse slightly but never really make you sweat.

The movie tries to build tension

Half the appeal of the plot is definitely the central characters. Mia Wasikowska’s Edith is the audience’s glimpse into this mad-house and because of this is fairly dull and pedestrian, not really having to do any heavy-lifting. The key performances belong to the mysterious Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston and the always creepy Jessica Chastain, playing Thomas’ sister Lucille.

These two performances are what makes the movie so engrossing and will keep the audience guessing. You are never sure of their intentions, their motives or what horrors and secrets both them and the house possess. Hiddleston has shown this creepy, intense performance before but Chastain feels refreshed to be dipping her toe in the horror genre.

It certainly captures the Gothic feel

Except, it never really feels like a straight horror. Guillermo del Toro wanted to create an old fashioned Gothic horror, relying much more on atmosphere and the suggestion of horror rather than full, cattle-prod scares but it doesn’t do enough to make that happen. The look is excellent and atmospheric, the house a character of it’s own and the way it “bleeds” and comes to life makes you feel the cold as winter comes in full-force.

The actual horror aspect is underwhelming. Del Toro knows how to create characters and use practical effects but here he relies too much on CGI and like any horror film, particularly Mama which he produced, the effects under-cut the scare. At no point does the audiences ever feel like they are supposed to be scared.

 

The film just isn’t as scary as it should be

This mean that you are watching the plot unfold rather than wondering where it goes or feeling a ride of terror. It is worth the wait for the revelations, although some are predictable, and what should be a unique horror movie does become more of a historic slasher film towards it’s climax.

Overall, Crimson Peak looks the part, has an intriguing and clever plot and some great performances to convey it’s story but lacks the scares. CGI and an attempt to make the movie too “traditional” means that suspense is limited. The story is enough to keep the attention and stave away boredom though.

Rating – 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Chastain’s performance is suitably creepy

 

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5 comments

  1. I think this movie was mis-marketed. Crimson Peak is more of a Gothic-Romance than a Gothic-Horror. If you go in with the mindset expecting a full on horror film, you’re going to be disappointed. It wasn’t what I was expecting but I did enjoy it. Good review, Ben.

  2. Pretty much agree, great looking film and there’s clearly some great production in it but it’s just not horror with some mis-leading marketing initially, the elements that make up the film are good but the final product could have been better imo.

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