A bookish young American woman falls for and marries a dashing but enigmatic nobleman, but upon moving to England she is haunted by ghoulish apparitions that seem to inhabit his decrepit old ancestral home.
Guillermo Del Toro’s latest foray into the macabre wears its many influences on its sleeve; the story is a variation on the themes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Suspicion, the Gothic visual trappings are very much of the Tim Burton school and the premise of a gruesome past event imposing itself upon the present in ghostly form is shared with Del Toro’s own The Devil’s Backbone. Even our heroine’s surname – Cushing – reflects its Hammer Horror sensibilities. Del Toro is clearly trying to create a more literary, almost theatrical feel to the film, but for me this compromised creating the suitable atmosphere. The rather over-egged visuals meant that I was never quite able to escape the sense that the house was just a set rather than a genuine location and its tendency towards melodrama is rather cruder than The Devil’s Backbone’s understated and subtle approach.
Crimson Peak feels far more like a macabre fairy story than true horror and is not the measure of Del Toro’s pre-Hollywood work, but compared to his other recent projects – particularly the rather adolescent and dim-witted Pacific Rim – it is certainly a step in the right direction.