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CRIMSON PEAK (director/writer: Guillermo del Toro; screenwriters: Matthew Robbins/Lucinda Coxon; cinematographer: Dan Laustsen; editor: Bernat Vilaplana; music: Fernando Velazquez; cast: Mia Wasikowska (Edith Cushing), Jessica Chastain (Lucille Sharpe), Tom Hiddleston (Thomas Sharpe), Charlie Hunnam (Dr. Alan McMichael), Jim Beaver (Carter Cushing), Burn Gorman (Holly), Leslie Hope (Mrs. McMichael), Jonathan Hyde (Ogilvie), Doug Jones (Edith’s Mother, Lady Sharpe); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Thomas Tull/Jon Jashni, Guillermo del Toro/Callum Greene; Universal Pictures; 2015)
“Never excites as much as it indulges the senses with a creepiness.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A visually captivating Gothic costume romance story, that never excites as much as it indulges the senses with a creepiness. Writer-director Guillermo del Toro(“Pacific Rim”/”Trollhunters”/”Beast”) keeps it overblown with a no substance narrative, but is stylishly pleasing with a menacing atmosphere. It plays out as an unhinged horror/ghost story tacked onto a familiar melodrama tale. Co-writers with Toro are Matthew Robbins/Lucinda Coxon, who might have been better off shooting for camp than playing this one out as a bitchy horror pic ride to torment a lonely bride who sees a ghost.

Smoothy British baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his slippery sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) have arrived in Buffalo, NY, at the turn of the 20th century, to sell his invention of a “clay harvester,” a mining machine, to a rich widowed industrialist. The handsome con artist meets Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the vulnerable virgin daughter to the wealthy widowed industrialist Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver). The wannabe Mary Shelley is trying to publish her supernatural romance novel. After Edith’s father’s untimely demise, Thomas manages to convince Edith to join him in his gloomy crumbling English haunted castle, at Crimson Peak, he shares with his diabolical sister.

You can bet your knickers that there’s trouble ahead for the sympathetic heroine, married to Sharpe, who is in obvious danger from the untrustworthy couple.

In the opening scene, when Edith was 10, she was warned by the ghost of her dead mom (Doug Jones) to “Beware of Crimson Peak.”

Things happen at the isolated castle that are more repulsive than scary, as it bloody well works its way into being a predictable musty haunted old house film. The sumptuous crimson-toned pic straddles the lines between visual pleasure and Grand Guignol gore, but can’t build on suspense or make its subplot about the decline of the aristocracy have a greater impact.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”