Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Universal, out now
Young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is an aspiring author living with her father in New York at the dawn of the 20th century. When her father dies in mysterious circumstances, seductive stranger Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) sweeps Edith away to Allerdale Hall in England, a house atop a mountain of profitable blood-red clay: a place ﬁlled with secrets that will haunt her forever…
Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie is stunning to look at – there’s no surprise there, even if a lot of the impact is perhaps lost removing it from the scope of a cinema screen to even a decent sized HD television. The use of colour, the saturation of the image that differentiates scenes set on the two different continents, the symbolism and references to so many classics of the past seen through the filter of a master film maker – they’re all present and correct. Fernando Valesquez’s score may not so much signpost what’s going on as send a red alert the moment something’s approaching – but it fits the melodramatic nature of the piece. However, somehow, it fails to hold the interest.
Whether that happens because there are so many homages to the past that you’ll have worked out the “terrible secret” of the house, or guessed how things were going to play out long before they become clear in the script will be different for each person, but I can’t seriously believe there’s anyone who can’t work out the final act once we reach the halfway point. And that’s this film’s biggest problem: in terms of characters (and, sad to say on too many people’s parts, acting), it’s bland. Things happen because they need to for the plot, rather than growing out of the characters.
It’s a shame to knock this, because there is so much going for Crimson Peak. The movie never ceases to be visually amazing – but it needs to be more.
Verdict: A sumptuous-looking movie that’s sadly more style than substance. 6/10
Crimson Peak is out now on Blu-ray™ and DVD from Universal Pictures (UK).