I do more than watch horror movies. I nerd out, appreciate the cinematography, the performances. To me, the Saturn Awards are the Academy Awards. Every once in awhile I hit the honey pot. I can’t decide which I enjoy more in the movie – the epic deaths or the horror aficionado nods before me. I was not expecting Crimson Peak to be that kind of movie. I was jazzed Guillermo del Toro was making something creepy again. I recently binged Sons of Anarchy, so I was looking forward to seeing Charlie Hunnam get to stretch. And above all, and with no shame, I was extremely excited to see my favorite trickster god Tom Hiddleston in a tragic and dangerous romantic lead. Nothing ground-shaking, just solid entertainment in the Halloween season.
I went with a fellow horror fan and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. We couldn’t stop talking about it that night, from the action to the design. We had officially seen a good film and were sent home more than satisfied. But my theatre nerd was in full effect. The scene work, the costumes, nothing could have stopped my fate. I had officially fallen down a blood-soaked rabbit hole.
Guillermo is indeed the maestro of horror. His versatile yet recognizable style has become a touchstone in the horror genre. But “maestro” is a perfect name tag for del Toro to wear. His movies are symphonies, the ebbs and flows, the music so recognizable yet unique in its own right.
What Crimson Peak does is hearken back to Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos and Devil’s Backbone days. But Crimson Peak takes it to the next level, seamlessly blending the evolution of the horror film into one perfect package. You have the gnarled fingers and vignette-style wipes of Vampyr and Nosferatu. The Gothic opulence of a Hammer film, the gore of an extreme 70’s slasher. The stark and startling color of Argento’s Italian staple. What del Toro does is give a film student everything they need to grasp the first century of the horror film.
Combine that with an invincible cast, and you have gold. Hiddleston and Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain are pitch perfect as mysterious siblings Thomas and Lucille Sharpe, treading the fine line of hyper-reality with classic monster movies. The naivete partnered with and independent attitude that is Mia Wasikowska’s Edith not only plays well against Chastain’s creepy Lucille, and cuts a starling visual as the starkly dressed lady in white in an otherwise dark and decrepit world. Charlie Hunnam’s baby-faced Dr. Alan McMichael is a definite change from his popular Sons of Anarchy character Jax Teller. Backed by a strong and simple supporting cast brings this quiet but chilling film to life.
Those looking for something a little more nostalgic this Halloween season will be missing out if they skip Guillermo del Toro’s latest work. Hold someone tight, swoon and scream, and remember: Beware Crimson Peak.