Review: ‘Crimson Peak’ Peaks Early Trying to Find its Genre
“Crimson Peak” is quality filmmaking that struggles to find its footing.
“Crimson Peak” tells the story of a mysterious entrepreneur and his sister in search of wealthy investors. While seeking investors, the daughter of a wealthy businessman (Mia Wasikowska) catches the eye of this entrepreneur (Tom Hiddleston). Things become more interesting as a tragedy comes about and the businessman’s daughter’s supernatural visions start to unravel a mystery.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 3
Guillermo del Toro is known for building ethereal type settings but takes an interesting approach with “Crimson Peak.” Blending the genres of horror, fantasy, and drama into a period piece proved to be a risk and unfortunately that risk didn’t fully pay off.
The del Toro that we know from “Pan’s Labyrinth” still exists but his use of CGI versus practical effects for “Crimson Peak” create a deep contrast that is distracting. The costumes, set design, and even lighting are perfectly matched to the time period but the presence of colorful apparitions throughout clash with the environment created for the film. You can look closely and see del Toro’s meticulous attention to detail in these creations, but they’re still out of place in the world that was created for them. I hate to say it but the visuals kept reminding me of 1999’s The Haunting with Liam Neeson. If more would have been left to the imagination with more practical effects, I think this would have been a much better film.
While the visuals leave some room for debate, the performances certainly do not. Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain carry a shroud of mystery that builds the suspense throughout the film. That shroud casts a shadow over many of the other actors as they seem to dive into a theater-style of acting that fits the setting. The other actor that does seem to carry his own alongside these two is Jim Beaver. The scenes between him and Hiddleston carried such intensity that I found myself fully immersed in the dialogue and forgot I was watching a film. I was so impressed with Beaver’s performance that I had to get him on the phone to discuss “Crimson Peak” the next day.
Mia Wasikowska gives an adequate performance but her role does not carry enough depth to be as emotive as Hiddleston, Chastain, or Beaver. Charlie Hunnam’s performance is a bit more uncertain. He isn’t necessarily bad in the role but there seems to be little range in his character. He plays the same role we’ve seen him play over the past couple of years and if it wasn’t for his character’s spoken title, I may have passed over the fact that he was a doctor.
Overall the film had many strong, cinematic elements but some risks taken didn’t pay off. The pace of the plot was a bit slower than I liked and that could be due to the visual distractions that had me constantly engaged and disengaged from the film. “Crimson Peak” identifies with multiple genres and this may be why it goes through a sort of “identity crisis” when trying to establish which genre is prominent. It could have been a great drama or horror film but it doesn’t work well when melding both together.
Entertainment Value – 2
Supplementing what I referred to above as an “identity crisis,” “Crimson Peak” has a lot of distractions that seem to prolong the film. I never truly felt the horror aspect or the fear they were trying to instill in the audience nor did I see any other audience members in fear during the screening. There were parts of the film that I could appreciate visually and performances that I would appreciate as well. But as far as entertainment goes, it just wasn’t there for me entirely.
“Crimson Peak” definitely had potential but in my opinion it didn’t meet it in terms of entertainment. There was a tale to be told but it was simple enough that it didn’t need such a long-winded explanation. I think most will figure this film out within the first half hour and then be steadily waiting for a confirmation by the end.
Rewatchability – 2.5
The entertainment was lacking and “Crimson Peak” definitely had its flaws which would make repeat viewings unnecessary. With that said, there are some aspects that true cinephiles may appreciate. The vast, white snowy landscapes and the dark, gothic architecture of the Sharpe home created an interesting juxtaposition that I did find visually fascinating and wouldn’t mind seeing again. There were also moments where certain performances invoked an emotional response that may be worthy of engaging in once more.
But despite these attributes, this is not a film that I am going to take the time to watch again to analyze. After the film was over, I think I was over it as well.
"Crimson Peak" has many attributes of quality filmmaking but fails to find its footing when establishing itself in multiple genres. I would commend the actors for their performances and even the visual landscapes, but "Crimson Peak's" identity is in a sort of disarray.