At the turn of the 20th century, a young woman marries a near stranger and is whisked away to his secluded home in England. The couple and his sister occupy the dilapidated manor that is slowly sinking into the ground. Only they are not alone, something sinister is there with them. This is director Guillermo del Toro’s gothic vision Crimson Peak.
While Crimson Peak is advertised as a ghost story, it really is more of a gothic love tale with horror elements. The ghosts serve to drive the plot forward rather than to be the center of the story. The film is low on jump scares but high on atmospheric fright. The designs of the spooky spirits are completely ghastly. Doug Jones, well known for his creature work in Pan’s Labyrinth, provides their unnerving and otherworldly movements.
The plot is fairly predictable. It’s telegraphed every step of the way, like in the novel written by Edith or an antidote told by Lucille. Although the cast does deliver good performances largely the characters aren’t terribly interesting. The camera work and sound design are both wonderful, which is typical for Del Toro.
However, the real star of the film is the lavish sets. The production design paints a delightfully eerie portrait that encapsulates the essence of Old Hollywood haunted house films. Del Toro is well known for his meticulously stylish sets, which he plans down to the last detail. The Crimson Peak manor is truly a character in and of itself. It’s hard to shake the image of the house standing atop of its snowy hill, red clay seeping from below like a hemorrhaging wound.
All and all, Crimson Peak has a standard story with extraordinary visuals. Even though Halloween has passed, if you’re still in the mood for something spooky, you ought to give this film a try.