New bride Edith (Mia Wasikowska) keeps finding secrets in her husband’s family home in Crimson Peak.

Reel Reviews: Crimson Peak freezes on the chill factor

Taylor and Howe say: "Crimson Peak is a fancy oil painting of a very ordinary ghost story.”

  • Oct. 25, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Young writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is trying to get her ghost story manuscript published when she meets a handsome baronet Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston).

Swept up into an innocent romance, the two are married and move to live with his sister, Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain) at Allerdale Hall, a dilapidated English mansion.

The house is built upon a hilltop of red clay soil, which the Sharpe’s have been turning into brick for generations, giving the estate its nickname Crimson Peak. It isn’t long before young Edith begins being haunted by the ghostly inhabitants of the house, warning her of the secrets being kept by the home’s more lively inhabitants.

We say, “It’s a fancy oil painting of a very ordinary ghost story.”

TAYLOR: Everyone has been waiting for this one, simply because it was created by visionary director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim).

In terms of the visuals, audiences are not being disappointed. Every set, every costume, and every shot is rich, complex and perfect. Unfortunately the story is predictable, the characters are left unexplored and the film is boring.

HOWE: Ten months I have been looking forward to this! Crimson Peak has been my most anticipated movie this year and it left me shocked. The film is boring, flat, unoriginal and quite frankly, not very scary or frightening. It has a little bit of over-the-top gore/violence that I could have done without. I agree the visual effects are amazing; some of the most beautiful shots that I have seen, but they alone are not enough to save this movie.

TAYLOR: Everything about this film should have been better. The secrets kept at Allerdale Hall could have been a much more disturbing revelation, rather than outright telegraphed to audiences. The spooks could have been spookier, the relationships between the characters could have been explored, their history, unfolding rather than mentioned. At the outset, it is clear that Sir Thomas and his weird sister are in cahoots as to the choosing to court our debutante author, Edith. Scary music plays, therefore we immediately know that Edith is in danger. The problem with Crimson Peak is that it tells you everything, rather than lets you discover.

HOWE: I felt the actors themselves were not even up to par on this adventure. Hiddleston, who I think is one of England’s finest up and coming actors, is limp and Chastain looks like she did it just for the pay cheque at the end of the week. The only good bit of acting came from the dog about half way through the movie, but his screen time was only brief before he disappeared never to be seen or mentioned again. Once again I will state, to be clear,  I was very disappointed with Crimson Peak.

TAYLOR: I think everyone is. Still, it’s pretty ain’t it? For the record my most anticipated film of the year is Legend. Tom Hardy plays British gangster twins Reg and Ronnie Kray. I’m saving all my disappointment for Star Wars, but I’ve set that bar purposely low and I have faith in director J.J. Abrams. I have a new hope that with the return of the Jedi, the empire will strike back.

– Howe gives Crimson Peak 1.5 dancing candles out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2 silly puns out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe review the latest films for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.

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