Movie review: ‘Crimson Peak’ is visually stunning, not as terrifying as you expect

Timothy Page, Arapahoe Pinnacle Movie Critic

“Crimson Peak” is a poorly marketed movie. I’ll just come right out and say that it’s not as terrifying as you’d think. Yes, there are some pretty grotesque and scary images in this film, but what it really boils down to is a Gothic Romantic Thriller.

Sound confusing? Well, if you go in expecting a horror-filled film, then it will be. But go in expecting a movie more focused on story on family, murder and intrigue, and you’ll probably have a pretty good time with it.

One of the biggest things to note about this movie is how beautiful it is. The camera work and set design are some of the best I’ve seen and, I think, are worth the price of admission alone.

On the big screen, it was hard to take in some scenes because I was soaking in how it all looked. The mansion on Crimson Peak is an old, dilapidated house that you’re surprised anyone would actually live in. But people do, and you’re left to marvel at it.

The most intriguing thing is that the mansion is on a hill where the soil is full of dark red clay. The family dug a mine under it, but now that it’s collapsed, the house is sinking into the ground. So the floorboards are rotting and ooze the dark red clay beneath it. When it snows, the soil soaks through the snow and it turns the hill red. It ends up creating some of the movie’s most beautiful moments. Especially a climactic scene in the snow.

The acting is all solid, as well. Jessica Chastain eats up a dark, sinister and almost cartoonish role, but she’s such a great actress that it works so well. Tom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers) plays the owner of the house and Chastain’s brother. These probably are the two most interesting characters in the film. Mia Wasikowska gets the short end of the stick, and plays a pretty straightforward, one-dimensional character. She’s there to discover secrets and see the occasional ghost. I wanted to see how she turned out and it kept me going, but looking back I realize how much of a plot device her character is.

This was a tough movie to pin down. I loved the visuals and the story, but was disappointed by the lack of scares and weak characters. It’s a mixed bag, and a poorly marketed movie, too.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s scary and pretty bloody at times, but not as scary and as bloody as I thought it would be. Don’t expect a terrifying movie, but do expect a creepy Gothic thriller that would honestly make Edgar Allen Poe blush.

It’s a visual masterpiece, but because of how it’s been marketed, I think it’ll throw some people off. I left mesmerized, but I wish I would have left a little more shaken. I had thought I was going to have to check my closet for grotesque monsters after going home, but instead I slept fine thinking about how glad I am that I don’t live on Crimson Peak.

Rating: 3.5/5 Low on scares, but so visually stunning that it’s worth the price of admission