Like his contemporaries Peter Jackson and J.J. Abrams, fan-favorite Guillermo del Toro (‘The Devil’s Backbone,’ ‘Blade 2,’ ‘Hellboy,’ ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘Pacific Rim’) has established himself as one of the most geektastic filmmakers of our time. Interestingly enough, the Guadalajara native’s latest feature combined his trademark visual style and panache with the sense and sensibilities of a Jane Austen novel. An engrossing tale of gothic horror with romance at its heart, ‘Crimson Peak’ may be del Toro’s best since ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ from a storytelling standpoint.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The wife in this instance is Edith (Mia Wasikowska), a headstrong young woman and aspiring novelist from Buffalo, New York at the turn of the 20th Century who’s smitten by the rather charming Mr. Darcy, by which I mean Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a baronet from England who may lack "possession of a good fortune" but certainly not pride and ambition. Against her wealthy industrialist father’s wishes before his untimely demise, she marries Sir Thomas and moves to the forbidding and run-down mansion he shares with his enchanting but mysterious sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), realizing too late that she’s residing at the very place the ghastly apparitions of her childhood warned her to beware of, a place called ‘Crimson Peak.’
‘Crimson Peak’ is a story of elaborate schemes and tragic romance, but it is also a creepy, unsettling and deeply atmospheric gothic chiller. Del Toro is a master at building slow-burning suspense, imbuing the movie with a pervasive sense of dread and impending doom. While the climactic ending seems a bit rushed, it really can’t be helped once the “cat is out of the bag.” Del Toro also deserves much credit for not toning the movie down to a more commercially viable PG-13 rating, as there are some disturbing images and scenes which made even a jaded horror fan like me cringe.