Crimson Peak

 

star



Guillermo del Toro dishes up a full-bloodied tribute to Hammer horror by way of Charlotte 

Brontë.

 
Crimson Peak 

"Here's Jessie!" Jessica Chastain with Tom Hiddleston

 

The best thing about Crimson Peak is its opening line: “Ghosts are real. This much I know.” Unfortunately, the ghosts are of the croaking, arthritic variety and everything is so over-the-top that one is not entirely sure which side of parody the film sits. The eponymous, Brontë-esque abode is a theme park of fantasy-horror convention: the floorboards ooze blood, the ceiling is open to the elements (and it seems to be constantly snowing), the taps gush thick red water and the very air appears to creek.

 

The ultimate Gothic mystery from Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Shape of Water), the biggest mystery remains what drew Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain to such risible material. Mia Wasikowska steps back into the shoes of the Jane Eyre she played in 2011 and Tom Hiddleston is her Rochester. They meet in Buffalo, New York, where she is described as a budding Jane Austen (she prefers Mary Shelley), and he’s called Tom Sharpe (author of Wilt and Porterhouse Blue). One might like to think this is a coincidence, but with the appearance of Jim Beaver as a Mr Cushing and the priest of the opening funeral bearing an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Lee, one thinks not.

 

The allusions are all over the place, but besides a nod to Hammer horror, the film’s main influence would seem to be The Shining. At times it almost feels like a remake and when a demented Jessica Chastain finally picks up her axe, one wants to scream, “Here’s Jessie!” It’s really Scary Movie on a huge budget. Without the humour, of course – or the scares.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver (as Mr Cushing), Burn Gorman, Jonathan Hyde, Leslie Hope, Doug Jones.

 

Dir Guillermo del Toro, Pro Guillermo del Toro, Callum Greene, Jon Jashni and Thomas Tull, Screenplay Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins, Ph Dan Laustsen, Pro Des Tom Sanders, Ed Bernat Vilaplana, Music Fernando Velázquez, Costumes Kate Hawley.

 

Legendary Pictures/DDY Productions-Universal Pictures.

118 mins. USA/Canada. 2015. Rel: 16 October 2015. Cert. 15.