Crimson Peak Is Great Halloween Viewing—Even Though It’s Not A Horror Movie
Despite what the trailers suggest, Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is not a bona fide horror film. Sure, it takes its cues from such ’60s horror mainstays as Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, Hammer horror films (our heroine is named Edith Cushing, clearly a nod to the late Peter Cushing), and has a striking colour palette evoking Italian horror maestro Mario Bava, but it’s not a true blue horror movie. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Crimson Peak is a Gothic romance with a supernatural twist, more in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights than the latest Paranormal Activity.
Even if you don’t get Crimson Peak’s abundance of literary and cinematic references, it’s clearly the film to beat this Halloween. Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, an aspiring author who’d rather be the next Mary Shelley than Jane Austen, a sentiment that baffles her aristocratic social circle. Soon enough, Edith becomes romantically involved with a dark horse (Tom Hiddleston), who whisks her away to live with him and his domineering sister (Jessica Chastain) in a decaying mansion sitting atop a mountain that bleeds red clay. Spoiler: they do not live happily ever after.
Even though we’re not calling it a horror movie, here are four reasons Crimson Peak makes for great Halloween viewing.
Wasikowska is pitch-perfect as a haunted heroine thrust into a murder mystery, and Hiddleston is tops at playing a complicated scoundrel, but Chastain is utterly remarkable as the ice-cold in-law whose temperamental encounters with Edith are almost as unsettling as her relationship with her brother. We’ll just leave it at that.
A haunted mansion
As solid as the human cast is, Crimson Peak’s biggest star is the dilapidated Victorian manor where the great majority of frights transpire. Truly one of the most impressive backdrops in recent memory, it’s evident del Toro and his team spent an insane amount of time ensuring every inch of the house—and every cobwebbed prop inside it—was not only memorable, but also accurate. The same praise goes out to the costumes, which, along with the production design, will surely earn awards accolades.
Yes, duh, there are ghosts galore in Crimson Peak. While I won’t give away their intentions, said apparitions definitely look the part. Dripping with red stuff, rotting to pieces, and emanating inky smoke, these digital phantoms may not be as awe-inspiring as the film’s tactile effects, but they hold their own against some of del Toro’s most impressive ethereal imagery.
At times, Crimson Peak can feel like a dreamy melodrama, but that idealistic flame is quickly extinguished whenever violence ensues. While the film boasts a relatively low body count, its first casualty is particularly gruesome—a smart move that leaves viewers totally shocked and vulnerable of what’s to come. Those familiar with del Toro’s blood-soaked oeuvre will be better prepared for Crimson Peak’s climactic stabbing. Like in his other films, it’s both gnarly and credibly awkward.
On second thought, maybe Crimson Peak is a horror movie. Check out the trailer below and judge for yourself: