Taking a page out of his own Silent Hill video game demo P.T., visionary director Guillermo Del Toro helped us celebrate Halloween this year with a horror movie mostly set in a creepy, conveniently lit house packed with monstrous ghosts.
Crimson Peak is an old-fashioned ghost story through and through complete with a period setting and a convoluted whodunit plot. Wonderland alumni Mia Wasikowska stars as the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur who falls in love with a not-so-wealthy entrepreneur with big ideas, she and the latter (a charmingly dodgy Tom Hiddleston) marry and he invites her back to his crumbling, red clay-infested big house in the middle of nowhere where he lives with his clearly evil sister (Jessica Chastain). To nobody's surprise, this whole arrangement doesn't go that well. Terrifying ghosts start showing up, the sister loses it little by little and the fact it's snowing (and claying) indoors doesn't help either. Eventually, this new husband's past begins to unfold and bloody chaos slowly but surely sets in.
If there's one thing Guillermo Del Toro excels at it's setting a mood: Crimson Peak's art direction is detailed and beautiful throughout, as are all the costumes. This plus intense performances all around, a moody score and some unique-looking ghosts make the film one gorgeous and atmospheric gothic horror movie to say the least. Tom Hiddleston is well cast as the tormented husband but it's Jessica Chastain who steals the show as the unpleasant and more-than-just-a-little jealous sister. What the film lacks is a script with a bit more bite: the plot is far too predictable, the characters' motivations tend to be inconsistent and the ending could have used some more surprises. Plus, while the ghosts look amazing (Doug Jones once again doing a fab job), they are a little underused and don't contribute much more than the odd mini-scare here and there.
Overall, Crimson Peak is worth checking out for the visuals and the performances alone. If you're looking for a ghost movie with big thrills and big shockers, however, this isn't it. Not Guillermo Del Toro's best, then, and it might be forgotten quite quickly but it is nevertheless a decent Hammer-style horror flick perfect for the Halloween season.