“Crimson Peak” Has Intrigue, But Few Scares

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Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska in "Crimson Peak."

HOLLYWOOD—With Halloween right around the corner, movie lovers looking for thrills might venture to the multiplex to see the new thriller “Crimson Peak.” The flick directed by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro definitely knows the genre all too well. One of his classics, in my opinion, is the much underrated science gone wrong thriller “Mimic,” which starred Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino in addition to a host of other all-star actors.

His latest outing, “Crimson Peak,” delivers a very gothic atmosphere. As an English major, I had a flashback to when I read all those Edgar Allen Poe tales that allowed my creative mind to explode. Del Toro absolutely utilizes motifs similar to Poe’s to craft the mood for this thriller.

The film stars Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing, a young aspiring writer who finds herself trapped in a burgeoning love triangle. In one corner, she has Dr. Alan McMichael, portrayed by Charlie Hunnam. Edith has known him since childhood, and it doesn’t hurt that Alan has Edith’s father, Carter (Jim Beaver) cheerleading for him. When our heroine comes face-to-face with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tm Hiddleston), she has an instant attraction to him that is difficult for her to resist.

It’s important to point out that Edith doesn’t have things all there. Her current residence is being haunted by her dearly departed mother, and when her father is brutally murdered, she falls into the arms of Sharpe and finds herself heading to their massive mansion where things go bump in the night.

Audiences will love the dynamic between Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, who portrays his very clingy and over-protective sister Lady Lucille Sharpe. It’s fun to see Chastain take on a villainous role and a character that is harboring a few secrets that she will go to great lengths to protect. So “Crimson Peak” has the character element well built, and the narrative works in favor of peaking the spectator’s interest, but the problem lies in its quest to be a horror flick.

It’s touted as the classic haunted house flick, but I never got that feeling watching the movie. Yes, we have the secret doors in the house that are locked, we hear the strange sounds at night, the pipes creaking and characters behaving badly, but the scares aren’t really unnerving. While Guillermo del Toro does a fabulous job of manifesting the element of dread, building suspense, and making the audience feel as if they are inside Crimson Peak, the problem lies in not being able to deliver past the buildup. It reminded me of the 1999 remake “The Haunting.”

There was such potential for that flick to deliver scares, yet the audience got little to nothing at all. “Crimson Peak,” while grander on scale, I expected far more shrieks and screams, but found myself watching a rivalry unfold between a brother and sister, and his wife who digs to uncover their secret. When I see a horror flick or haunted house movie, I expect to be scared, plain and simple.