Crimson Peak isn’t a horror. Guillermo del Toro really wants you to understand that.
When we meet Mia Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing, she’s written “a story with a ghost in it”, but while struggling to get it published is keen to emphasise that it is not “a ghost story”. The spirits are merely metaphors for the past, she says, multiple times, making clear what the film we’re watching really isn’t. You see, somewhat contrary to the marketing, this is a “gothic romance”, with Edith and Tom Hiddleston’s Sir Thomas Sharpe marrying and moving to his creaky, literally breathing mansion in Cumberland, along with Jessica Chastain as his mysterious sister. It’s weird and bizarre, with some cracking visuals, but only intermittently scary.
Which is a shame, because the film is at its best when it’s entering into horror territory; dark, angular