Direction: Guillermo Del Toro
Actors: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston
Whether it’s a vampire thriller (Blade II) or a fascistic fable (Pan’s Labyrinth), Guillermo Del Toro is an unapologetic genre geek. Crimson Peak finds the Mexican-born director revisiting the Gothic-horror roots of his Spanish-language chillers, Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone.
The focus is on an aspiring American author (Wasikowska) who attracts the attention of a brooding British baronet (Hiddleston). She marries the seductive stranger and moves into his cavernous family manor. Little by little, it becomes apparent that her marital residence might be haunted. The bride is scared witless by the supernatural goings-on. Worse, the bond — a doomed amour fou — between her husband and his spinster sister (Jessica Chastain) wreaks havoc upon their marriage.
Del Toro creates an effectively eerie atmosphere in the spooky period piece. Skirting the shock tactics and jump scares commonplace in horror movies nowadays, Del Toro opts instead to build up a poetically imagined nightmare.
Watch Crimson Peak trailer
The climactic fight to the finish wraps up the melodramatic tale of three broken hearts. Mia Wasikowska and fangirl favourite Tom Hiddleston are impressive. But it’s Jessica Chastain who’s the standout, as the deranged schemer who sets the plot in motion. Ultimately, Crimson Peak attests that heartfelt horror remains Guillermo Del Toro’s vital stock in trade.