If The Age of Innocence and The Shining had a baby, it would look like Crimson Peak. Guillermo del Toro uses his poetic storytelling and gothic beauty taste to create a very unique romance, filled with murder, blood-soaked walking dead, and Tom Hiddleston.
Which is why it’s so unfortunate that del Toro and Matthew Robbins’ script had to waste all the incredible work that went into this film.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), feeling her writing is unfairly treated because she is a woman, ditches her old life for an exciting new one after just meeting Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After arriving at his mansion in the middle of nowhere, Edith is greeted by ghosts, illness, lots of blood, and Tommy’s creepy sis, Lucille (Jessica Chastain).
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Guillermo del Toro (The Hobbit Trilogy, Pacific Rim) and co-writer Matthew Robbins (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, The Sugarland Express) were on to something. They had an interesting idea and del Toro in the director’s chair. Then, something happened. A twister hit. Charlie Hunnan was thrown far away from relevancy, the theme of love became buried under some rubble, and all dialogue was badly injured.
What was this movie going for? Was this a romance? A horror film? Even though some form of love is present in every character, why did that powerful theme take a backseat to a generic ghost mystery in some lifeless mansion? Also, why have this house be the focus of your setting and have it be some boring mansion with a giant hole in the roof? Why not make it interesting so the characters aren’t carrying all the weight? Speaking of characters, why did they all look so lost and confused? Was it because the dialogue sounded like it was made up on the spot? I don’t know.
At least the movie delivered visually. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen (Silent Hill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Production Designer Thomas E. Sanders (Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart), and all the set decorators, costume designers, and makeup artists really made a stunning movie. Of course, they were all guided by del Toro. If he didn’t helm the picture, it wouldn’t be nearly as watchable as it barely is.
Crimson Peak is worth watching just to see a visually unique movie in 2015, but the script really needed a complete overhaul. Del Toro can do infinitely better, and I impatiently await his next great film since Crimson Peak certainly didn’t fit the bill.