Actress Mia Wasikowska must be an English major at heart.
Over the years, she has starred in adaptations of “Jane Eyre,” “Madame Bovary,” “Alice in Wonderland” and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Double.” Now, with “Crimson Peak,” she stars in a perfect love letter to Gothic literature.
The Gothic genre is widely accepted as the birthplace of modern horror. As one of the most important current descendants of this tradition, Guillermo del Toro is a great director to bring this style alive for a whole new generation.
“Crimson Peak” is why words like “phantasmagoria” exist. It stands with, and perhaps even above, “Pan’s Labyrinth” as one of the greatest visual tapestries del Toro has ever painted on screen. No matter how you feel about the story of “Crimson Peak,” there is no denying the dark magic this film casts with its special effects, costumes and set design.
The plot is admittedly an afterthought to the movie, but it’s strong in its own right and is a clever and faithful homage to the literature that inspires it.
The aforementioned Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain are great, but it is Tom Hiddleston, with his appropriately low-key performance, who really brings del Toro’s words alive.
The only things holding “Crimson Peak” back are the overly-long first act, and a climax that underwhelms compared to the fantastic build-up. The story never quite ascends to the kind of macabre madness it has the potential for,and settles instead for a decent, yet too conventional, finale.
In other words, there basically ends up being too much Jane Austen here and not enough H.P. Lovecraft.
The complaints about “Crimson Peak” are forgivable since the experience is far more good than bad. You should look elsewhere if you yearn for genuine fear or splatter-house gore, but if stylish and wicked melodrama appeal to you, you are in for a treat.
“Crimson Peak” stands tall among this year’s Halloween movie fare, and scores seven “Loki puns you may not have noticed above” out of ten.