Guillermo del Toro fights hard to make Crimson Peak the horror epic it deserves to be. However, the film disappoints in scares and emotions.
Be forewarned that this film is not a horror film. Crimson Peak is a maniacal love story. There is even a love square (like a love triangle). Director Guillermo del Toro has visions of an awe inspiring, bizarre romantic life. While he has never been a commercially acclaimed director, his films (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy) have been critically successful. In 2013, del Toro tried his hand at a true epic blockbuster, Pacific Rim. His vision of a near-apocalyptic Earth where human-controlled giant robots must fight against gargantuan monsters, was met with lukewarm praise and domestic commercial failure.
Now comes Crimson Peak. Mia Wasikowska plays the daughter of an American industrialist, who falls in love with an English businessman played by Tom Hiddleston. The Englishman, along with his sister played by Jessica Chastain, have more demons than meet the eye. That's the short version of a very complicated film.
The film is self referential. The first act explains to the audience what the film is about: a romance with ghosts, but not a ghost story. Del Toro really tries his hand at pleasing everyone. The horror elements are displaced, with few scenes displaying the del Toro flair. The transparent and oftentimes dull romance between Wasikoska and Hiddleston, stands in the forefront, slowing the film down at every turn. There are a couple big cinematic moments between the two lovers. These moments usually involve gorgeous frame placements, or magnificent blocking of the characters. Unfortunately, when there are these moments, they come off as cheesy rather than unique.
Crimson Peak's biggest crime are the references of the Disney-ride The Haunted Mansion. These references are all over the film and it's sad that they don't come alive. Most of the references just sit in the background. A vague reminder that there was once a better film in del Toro's mind that never got created.
Good Qualities: A few perfectly cut together moments here and there.
Bad Qualities: Poorly written story, poorly created characters, poor romance, poor horror.
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