‘Crimson Peak’: del Toro Film Too Slow In The Cold Snow


Beware of Crimson Peak


In the aftermath of a family tragedy, a young aspiring author marries a mysteriously charming man who could provide the passionate life she’s always dreamed of. Against the wishes of her father, Edith arrives at and quickly adapts to her new life as a blushing bride and a loving wife of Thomas Sharpe. But when the manor begins to bring to the surface the many secret of the Sharpe family, Edith must fight for the both truth and her very existence. With time running out, and her husband’s spiteful sister getting close with every passing day, Edith must expose her new family’s horrid secrets if she has any chance of surviving her stay. Being married and living with someone else hard enough. Doing it in a house full of red ghostly aberrations could be murder. Welcome to Crimson Peak.

Ghost Are Real. That Much I Know- Edith Cushing


I remember being around 18 and hearing about this mysterious Spanish-spoken film Pan’s Labyrinth. It seemed everywhere I turned, it was either on a top 10 of the year list or being blogged about by my fellow Deadites across the world. After long resisting, I finally gave in and hoped into my black Ford Thunderbird Dukes of Hazard style in pursuit of the nearest silver screen; the experience changed me. From then on, not only was Guillermo del Toro on my elite filmmaker list, but I became obsessed with his filmography. So it’s no surprise that I’ve been waiting with bated breath for his latest film to be released. If only the wait was worth the trouble. So let’s all make that big move, shovel a little red stained snow, and reluctantly trust the untrusables as I review the misguided 2015 gothic tale, Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak.


Crimson Peak’s strongest export is its acting. Without question, while the film has many problems, it’s a strongly acted piece of cinema and the many performers make it look easy.

Without question, the strongest performance in the film comes from the increasingly popular Tom Hiddleston. Having essentially burst on the scene four years ago playing Loki in Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 Marvel produced Thor, and subsequently scene stealing in Joss Weadon’s 2012 epic The Avengers (an impressive feat given the cast), Hiddleston is amazing playing Thomas Sharpe in Crimson Peak. The actor, who has many great things in his future, does a great job helping a script that is otherwise lacking. You never really know what side Thomas is on, even when the narrative is pulling one way,  and it’s this that give his performance levity. It was highly enjoyable watching the actor make it look easy, while playing with audience expectations.

Jessica Chastain is also very remarkable in del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The actress, who often plays the sympathetically meek character, really relishes dancing in the darker side of the cinematic club. She makes the most out of every line, squeezing each word like the oranges of a juice factory, and forcing the audience to drink from the cup. Especially in the third act of the film, the actress shines and causes the audience to leave the theater with a lasting in impression of Lucille Sharpe. Which is good, because they will likely forget the overall film quickly.

Mia Wasikowska also delivers the goods in Peak. The actress, who also worked with the visionary David Cronenberg in his most recent 2015 film Maps to the Stars, really give the paying customers a bang for their buck in the film about a house sitting on a bloody hill. Playing protagonist Edith Cushing, Wasikowska brings the type of innocence to the role that’s truly needed here. She’s great in both derivative sections of Crimson Peak, which features a limp and out of place first act (more on that later, Deadites), and does her best to bring the highly confused script to life. Look at the film’s climax for a shining example why the actress continues to find work. (A-)


While the film is highly atmospheric once the narrative moves to the actual red-drenched estate, the film is limp and tonally uneven in the first act.

The filmmaker, who has been universally revered since his jaw-dropping 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth, seems confused with what do with his first act of his latest feature. The act, which is also confused on the script level and never jives with the rest of the picture, features out of place music that gives the early portions of the film too much of a whimsical tone. This wouldn’t be a problem if the filmmaker used this tone throughout, but here its abandoned quickly in place of too many unneeded scenes that set up the actual narrative (the movie truly starts when we get to the house, but that’s 40 something minutes into the film). The result is a confused feature that wastes time and is seemingly unconfident about its tone.

Crimson Peak’s direction isn’t entirely bad though, on the contrary actually. I mean come on, we are talking about del Toro here. There’s a reason why I feverishly anticipate each film by the guy that gave us both the uniquely underrated 1993 vampire epic Cronos and one of the best sequels of all time in 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The man is a true visionary, and shows it in his second and third acts of Crimson Peak.

While the film is sharp in its unequaled production value and set design, something most del Toro films share, the film also gets the tone right beginning with the second act. With long tracking shots we begin to get some suspense out of his ghost story. Especially in the third act, the film is beautiful with every piece of snow acting like a solider in the army of scene settings.

Crimson Peak, while not the filmmaker’s best work, is still an example of Guillermo del Toro’s true understanding of the camera and its storytelling abilities. (B-)


Crimson Peak’s script is by far the worst part of the entire show. Which is extremely bad, seeing as movies are visual stories and not simply visuals.

Written by del Toro and screenwriter Mathew Robbins, Crimson Peak’s first strike is its first act. The first act of Peak feels like a completely different film, casting its characters in roles that they slightly derive from in the second and third acts. Edith is a head strong female writer in a world driven by men in the first act, in the second and third however, she’s a vulnerably satisfied housewife who never really mentions her love of writing.

The script spends too much time setting up the story that takes place once inside the house, which could have been done in 15 minutes of so. The result is frustrating and a waste of time. In fact, you could walk in something like 40 minutes late and get an better overall experience.

Crimson Peak’s Direction Isn’t Entirely Bad Though, The Contrary Actually

Once the script gets to the house at the start of the second act, the one called Crimson Peak, the narrative finds its footing. While it wastes the premise of the ghosts by using them for a story that’s half-baked, the ghosts are the good kind of spirits that only look scary (don’t want to ruin too much), the film begins to appropriately build to its conclusion. The narrative beings to slow itself down here, while patiently building to the almost wholly satisfying third act. And then there is the climax itself.

I hate to report, but there is an integral part of the climax that’s just plain silly. While the story beat was supposed to be serious, I found myself laughing in the theater. It could have been a really satisfying moment, but because the script doesn’t truly set up the situation, it falls too flat. So flat in fact, I cracked up at the moment that was supposed to be the film’s big payoff. It’s truly sad as del Toro is better than this and I only hope he looks at the script more closely instead of his set deigns on his next feature. (C-)


Crimson Peak is an ultimately forgettable film that doesn’t live up to Director Guillermo del Toro’s filmography. While the picture is sharply preformed, the script is lacking in a lot of aspects and direction is often tonally confused. While the second and third acts give you something for your hard earns, the first act is crap and taints what could have been. I recommend the film to del Toro buffs and to lovers of beautiful production design. Others though, should stay far away, in a house sitting on blood-drenched snow if need be.


Crimson Peak is now playing in a theater near you, produced by Legendary Pictures and release by Universal Studios

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