There’s something deeply amiss in the countryside in this week’s big DVD release. We’re taking a look at the eminently stylish and largely enjoyable horror Crimson Peak.
Director Guillermo del Toro’s latest feature transports us back to 1901 New York and the life of the aspiring novelist Edith, played by Mia Wasikowska.
The daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Edith’s pretty glum after her first book has been dismissed by publishers but it isn’t long before her mind is elsewhere.
The arrival of the debonair English aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe and his aloof sister Lucille, a suave Tom Hiddlestone and haughty Jessica Chastain, causes a big stir in high society and an even bigger one in Edith’s life.
Within no time Edith and Sir Thomas are married and the couple are heading back to England and the imposingly named Crimson Peak, a forbidding country estate so named for the rich blood-coloured clay which lies under the bleak landscape.
It isn’t long until ghostly presences are making themselves known. Edith faces a very real threat as she struggles to uncover the deadly secret at the heart of the creepy home and its equally odd inhabitants.
It’s a classic bit of gothic horror that could have come across as ludicrously camp if not for the assured filmmaking and stylish eye of del Toro. The Mexican director creates, not for the first time, a sumptuously dark and creaking landscape, laden with implied threat.
The cast’s contribution is also notable in saving the film from coming across as too silly. Roles which could have easily fallen victim to hammy overacting are saved by a number of strong performances, particularly from the young star Wasikowska.
The ghosts themselves are less convincing, looking more garish than ghoulish, and there are problems too with the story which sometimes feels derivative and obvious.
Still, the power of the film remains in the imagery and action of the film and Crimson Peak has got that in spades.