Film Review: Crimson Peak

November 4, 2015

Film | by Jade Bailey-Dowling

We were anticipating the release of Crimson Peak back in February, predicting that it would be an aesthetically gothic and macabre beauty with all the peculiarity of a Toro film.

Hitting cinemas last week, we were certainly not disappointed! Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Crimson Peak is set across Boston and England in the early 1900s and encompasses all the necessities for a truly gothic tale, from hauntingly beautiful ghosts, to dilapidated medieval castle-esque architecture. Matching the sumptuous visuals is a stellar cast including Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska. Sons of Anarchy fans will also appreciate Charlie Hunnam’s presence, who also starred in Toro’s Pacific Rim back in 2013.

Very much reminiscent of the gothic literature that introduced me to the horror genre, Crimson Peak relies less on cheap thrills such as the jump scare, and more on haunting mise-en-scene to evoke fear in the audience. While in the story itself, Toro presents disturbing themes of murder, death, betrayal, and spoiler alert incest, all indicative of traditionally gothic horror, it was the costumes that really set the tone of the film.

Kate Hawley, whose other costume work can be seen in Toro’s Pacific Rim, and in the hotly awaited Suicide Squad next year, wanted to create authentic yet theatrical and extravagant costumes, with each bespoke dress handmade for Chastain and Wasikowska comprising of historically accurate corsetry and intricate gothic detailing and motifs. In a recent interview, Haweley said,

“I grew up on the dark fairytales[…]and [Guillermo] kind of encapsulated everything that I felt I wanted to explore myself and just beautiful work that inspires…he makes it amazing and rewarding and theatrical.”

[Instyle Interview]

While die hard horror fans may be disappointed with the lack of gore and grit accustomed to modern horror films, the storyline, aesthetics and costumes will appeal to those who are fans of the origins of horror. Fans of Toro’s passion and opulence will most definitely approve.


crimson peak poster