Story: Edith Cushing (heh), a young woman with dreams of being a ghost story writer, suddenly falls in love with a dashing but mysterious man. When she moves from the USA to the UK to be with him, things slowly fall apart. Probably because bloody, disfigured ghosts come calling. Edith probably shoulda married that nice doctor fella instead.
Scares: Not many true scares, but a lovely creepy feel throughout. And the climax is rip-roaring fun.
Splat factor: Ghostly apparitions seem to drip blood, but it’s the house’s crimson clay that’s really the deal here. But there is red stuff too, including a particularly gruesome death early on in the film.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope; this gothic tale follows the genre tropes and wraps up all its loose ends before the credits roll.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: While there are hints of The Shining, The Haunting, Jane Eyre and several other gothic standards, this is wholly original.
Trick or Treat?: Time to hit the multiplex y’all! While Crimson Peak is bombastic overkill dialed to 11, it’s fun bombastic overkill. My only real complaint is that the “big reveal” is let out of the bag so early into the film that I had a hard time getting suitably spooked by the ghostly goings on. However, there’s a solid, retro vibe here, as if director Guillermo del Toro wanted to harken back to the good ol’ Hammer horror days. And del Toro succeeds in giving viewers a healthy dose of old fashioned chills. They may be more in delight than terror, but hey, when a film is this gorgeous and over-the-top, why not just ride the tide of red clay to its obvious conclusion?
BTW, come for the creepy, stay for the enjoyable performances by Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam as the “good folks”, and Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston as the “creepy new people that definitely have something to hide”. Oh, and Supernatural Fan Alert: Jim “Bobby” Beaver plays Edith’s dad Mr. Cushing. I love that on so many levels.
Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.