Crimson Peak review

One certainly can't fault del Toro's eye for sumptuous visuals. Crimson Peak delivers lush production values of gothic horror splendour as it weaves its tale about an innocent young New York ingenue (Wasikowska) who falls for a dashing British baronet (Hiddleston) at the gentrified turn of the century.

He is in the US for business purposes ostensibly but perhaps he and his weird sister (Chastain) have other motives in procuring the young girl? They bring the shy one to their vast Victorian abode in England, a towering monstrosity that lets the director indulge his sharp instinct for eye-popping design – the look of the place is indeed impressive with its echoes of old school Hammer movies and there are parallels to Hitchcock's Rebecca too.

Top marks then for its pictorial richness but debits for its hackneyed plot – it's utterly predictable. One can easily guess the dark undercurrents that are percolating within the the protagonists' demeanour and the CGI ghosts that visit the troubled girl as she comes more accustomed to her new surroundings are not remotely scary. At the packed screening I attended I did not witness one audience member shudder with fright nor jump with fear.

Wasikowska, however, is very effective at suggesting the terror befalling her troubled character, and Hiddleston is a most persuasive cad with perhaps more integrity than one first thought. Chastain though is miscast, never conveying the chill factor her role requires. The grand guignol climax goes for naught too with its total lack of nerve shredding suspense. Overall then, a considerable disappointment.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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