Crimson Peak

In Films by Janet Leigh

With its powerful opening scene, Crimson Peak draws you in and, though loosens its grip at times, manages to keep hold of the audience’s attention until the end.  Director Guillermo del Toro has pulled together a stunning cast, fantastic imagery and hair-raisingly sharp sounds to create an intriguing period horror flick.

Layer upon layer of dark, twisted truths reveal themselves following the death of Edith’s (Mia Wasikowska) mother. Lured by her love for mysterious suitor Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) Edith finds herself right at the heart of danger with no escape.

Wasikowska is brilliant as the doe-eyed trusting dreamer, haunted by a message from the ghost of her mother. Wasikowska meshes well with Hiddleston who reveals a different side to his repertoire. Famously remembered as Thor’s villain brother Loki, Hiddleston gives the opportunity to see a softer, more vulnerable, side to his acting skill set.

That said, it is Jessica Chastain’s deliciously disturbing portrayal of Lucile Sharpe that really steals the show. Overbearingly co-dependent, with a slight unhinged look in the eyes, Sharpe is the driving force behind her brother’s actions. Chastain plays stone-cold with a sultry edge that’s captivating.

Looked at in isolation, the suspension in the movie is perfectly paced. Del Toro builds on it using a combination of stylistic camera shots, elegantly haunting imagery and crisp sound effects before catapulting the scene into a moment of terror. At first it only takes the crystalline scrape of a door sliding open, an anxious breath or the heart-like beat of Edith’s tread against old floors to raise pulses. However, del Toro tends to overuse this shock pattern repeatedly instead of continuing on with the story making the audience complacent by the end.

Hats doffed to the musical score that not only fit the 19th century period for which it was set but added to the sense of danger with a delicate beauty.

An alluring watch with a sense of grandeur and poetry to this skull-bashing, knife-plunging horror. Del Toro starts off with a bang, drags a little in the middle but pushes towards a sensational finish.