Crimson Peak

WRITTEN BY: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
DIRECTED BY: Guillermo del Toro
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
RATING: 4 stars

After a family tragedy, aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) leaves her home in the United States and travels with her charming new husband baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) to the home he shares with his mysterious sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). But the house seems to be haunted and soon Edith, who has always believed in ghosts, starts to feel like she is losing her mind. Meanwhile, Edith's childhood friend Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) has his own theory about the enigmatic siblings and is determined to expose their secrets.

Do not watch Crimson Peak expecting it to be a horror film. It is the very definition of a gothic romance and the best of its genre that Hollywood has produced in years. Aside from a couple of supernatural scenes, the first 40 minutes feel like a Jane Austen novel, including a playful love triangle and a ball. But as the plot unfolds and the characters start to reveal their true selves, Crimson Peak takes a more sinister turn and becomes much like an Emily or Charlotte Bronte novel. 

In the capable hands of director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro, the film also plays out like an unexpected blockbuster, including some exquisite cinematography depicted in the disheveled haunted mansion that bleeds deep red clay from the floorboards. There is also a gaping hole in the rotting roof at the entrance of the house where snow and leaves float in, not to mention the skeletal-looking spirits regularly emerging from the shadows. The early 1900s costumes are also beautiful. 

To top it off, there are some fantastic performances, led by Wasikowska who is both elegant and sweetly innocent. Hiddleston portrays a Byronic character so well, but there is always something appropriately creepy about him. Hunnam is also charismatic, but his character is a little weak. Meanwhile, Chastain is wonderfully cold and wicked. Jim Beaver is also fun to watch as Edith's wealthy industrialist father, who never approves of Thomas. 

Crimson Peak looks fantastic and is equally spooky. It is worth seeing on the big screen with an audience.