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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Guillermo Del Toro

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

Guillermo Del Toro doesn't make terrifying ghost stories, instead creating beautiful masterpieces that unfold in what can only be described as dark fairy tales. From PAN'S LABYRINTH to THE DEVIL's BACKBONE, Del Toro has a fantasy for Gothic storytelling that is matched by no-one.

CRIMSON PEAK is no exception and from its period characters to the derelict household, everything about this film screams from an era of horror that has been iconic ever since.

When brother and sister Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) arrive on US shores, they come seeking finance in a last ditch attempt for funding of Thomas' revolutionary clay mining machine. Complicating matters further is Thomas' charm with his potential investors daughter, Edith (Mia Wasikowska). Not content with an offer above any other, Thomas pursues Edith until he claims her as his wife.

Upon their return to England, Edith, now Mrs Sharpe, learns of the namesake she inherits and the curse that comes with it as they arrive in the ghastly Crimson Peak is a masterpiece to behold and is rich with Gothic detail. Del Toro may have hit his commercial peak with 'Pans Labyrinth' but what he has achieved with this movie is an oil painting that is as representative of his own work as it is of his inspiration.

It truly is a beauty to watch with every corner of Allerdale Hall gloriously detailed in rich history and colour, something that you wouldn't perhaps associate with a ghostly tale. With a resurgence in Victorian ghost stories in recent cinema, it's no surprise that CRIMSON PEAK doesn't quite pack the punch it should in terms of scares and storytelling but then again, the modern classics of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA that made big budget horror a box office smash, this ghost story pits itself firmly in that category of films.

The trio of leading stars are sensational and their ranks in Hollywood royalty are well earned here. Wasikowska delivers a familiar turn as the frail victim and Hiddleston's charm is on show in droves but it is Chastain whose dark cynicism casts a shadow over any sign of happiness in this tale. There's something unnerving every time she appears on screen that only adds to the drama unfolding between the web of on screen relationships.

Everything from the ghastly apparitions to the lead cast prove that horror can be as enchanting as it is haunting and for fans of Guillermo Del Toro's growing repertoire of films, will know what to expect from the start. Yet despite the predictable nature, it doesn't make the journey any less enjoyable. Each of the pacing hallways hosts a haunt that is creative to look at and further detail is hidden in the walls as the attention to detail mean a companion book is a must. Throughout the layers of this mansion lie secrets to behold and the bittersweet tale once again, that Del Toro is the author of the grandest of fairy tales.

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