Red and dead
released 15 February 2015 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD
Director Guillermo del Toro
Cast Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver
Guillermo del Toro’s stylish ghost story isn’t just Gothic with a capital “G” – the word’s written in beautiful copperplate script, on a sign dripping in blood, with a raven sitting on top. The problem is that, while it’s undeniably beautiful to look at, at times creepy and an unashamedly loving homage to Hammer and its horrific brethren, Crimson Peak fails to add up to the sum of its parts. It’s certainly nowhere near the equal of the director’s bona fide spooky classics The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.
That’s despite a set- up that promises much, as mysterious English aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe ( Tom Hiddleston) rolls up in Buffalo, New York, and woos Edith Cushing ( Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of a local businessman. They’re soon heading back to Allerdale Hall ( nicknamed Crimson Peak) – the dilapidated Cumbrian stately home he shares with his sister Lucille ( Jessica Chastain) – for a honeymoon packed with the wrong kind of bumps in the night. Looks like the ghostly apparition of Edith’s late mother may have been on to something when she said, “Beware of Crimson Peak…”
In terms of building mood, the film is faultless. Allerdale Hall is a visually arresting haunted house of nightmares, where a hole in the roof creates an eerily lit column of falling snow, and you feel every oddly- shaped shadow could be home to something nasty. Also, an accident of geography means the house is built upon bright red clay that leaks out of the floor and LOOKS LIKE BLOOD! Yes, it’s contrived and a bit too on- thenose ( the horror!), but we’ll let del Toro off because it looks amazing.
Yet, despite some typically offbeat, unconventional spectres from the Guillermo book of the macabre, Crimson Peak is not a great ghost story. There are a few decent jumps, a pitch- perfect score, and plenty of dread and foreboding, but the tale never builds to the scary climax you’re hoping for. Indeed, the big reveal in the final act just seems to fizzle away, a disappointing mix of predictable and underwhelming.
The lead cast are all spot on, particularly the unfortunate-butproactive Edith and the awkwardly charming Hiddleston, but they just don’t have enough to work with. To paraphrase the wonderful Eric Morecambe, Crimson Peak has all the right elements, they’re just not necessarily in the right order.
Extras The DVD disappoints, coming with just five deleted scenes. The Blu- ray adds a del Toro commentary, interviews with the director and members of the cast ( 19 minutes) and a Making Of ( eight minutes), plus five more featurettes ( 41 minutes) on subjects such as the history of gothic romance, the costume design, the mansion set, and the prosthetic effects. Richard Edwards
Fails to add up to the sum of its parts
Regular del Toro collaborator Doug Jones ( Hellboy’s Abe Sapien, Pan’s Labyrinth’s Pale Man) plays two ghosts in the movie.
Maureen was getting fed up of power cuts.