Crimson Peak is directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan's Labyrinth) and features the amazing acting skills of Tom Hiddleston (Avengers), Jessica Chastain (The Martian, Interstellar), and Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland). The story features a young aspiring writer, Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), who is having difficulty in getting her work published, when she meets and falls in love with an attractive stranger from England, Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston). They eventually get married and Cushing moves to England with Sharpe into his very big, very old, and very run down mansion that was built on a hill with blood red clay (hence the name Crimson Peak). This was the mansion Sharpe lived in with his sister (Chastain) and it's where he is currently working on his clay collecting business.
Advertised as a horror story, you can expect to see some ghosts in the movie. Cushing, as she explains, has been able to see ghosts since she was young, and now there are ghosts creeping through the mansion corridors every night. Del Toro is no stranger to horror and his films are usually filled to the brim with beautiful scenery and set production. He excels at visual mastery and Crimson Peak is no exception to this as del Toro's expert vision explodes in every scene. He makes colors come alive with their own personality and the ghosts in the movie are the most hauntingly beautiful specters I've ever seen. They're terrifying in appearance but there's something alluring about them that makes it very hard to look away. The way del Toro uses these visuals to drive the plot is very compelling, until you realize that the plot itself falls rather flat.
The film, while beautiful, has no substance. The first part of the movie is essentially Cushing and Sharpe getting to know each other over a certain period of time while Sharpe is in America. Filled with a cringe-worthy script wonderfully delivered by Hiddleston and Wasikowska, and plot elements that feel very clichÃÂÃÂ©. The entire first half seems to be a Jane Austen novel set in America with very bland and very cheesy dialogue. There are moments that genuinely seem interesting, but the movie moves past them before you really get a chance to get a closer look.
The rest of the movie occurs in (yes, you've guessed in) Crimson Peak itself. It seems interesting and compelling at first, as the beautiful mansion draws us in with it's hidden secrets and strange although beautiful features. But it begins to fall into a repetitive sequence of Cushing waking up in the middle of the night to find a ghost and going back to sleep. All the while she's trying to uncover the secrets of her new home in a way we've become accustomed to in horror movies. Old documents, black and white pictures, and terrifying recordings. The movie very aggressively throws all of this evidence in your face to make sure you understand the details behind the house's story.
There are elements of the movie that seem absolutely ridiculous. Del Toro tried very hard to put his vision onto screen and sometimes that vision is not the most practical addition. There are scenes, objects, and dialogue that, if not for the tone of the movie, would seem almost comical. And despite the amazing skills of the leading protagonists, there are moments that just feel empty and out of place. There is a lot of potential hidden between the lines, but it's often times ignored.
What I will say is the last sequence of the movie is the highlight of the entire film. The scenes are intense and I wish they could have lasted longer. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't go into detail.
All in all, Crimson Peak is much like the ghosts in the movie itself: hauntingly beautiful, hard to look away from, but lacking any substance. Don't rush to the movie theaters to watch it, but it wouldn't be a tragedy if you did. I give it a 6.5/10.