Crimson Peak (2015)
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is a young American woman with dreams of becoming a great author someday. When British entrepreneur Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) visit Edith's father Carter (Jim Beaver) in Buffalo, New York, in order to try and secure money for a clay-mining tool, Edith is drawn to Thomas's mysterious demeanor. Carter senses something off with the Sharpes and forbids Edith to start a relationship with Thomas. However, when tragic circumstances arise, Edith ends up marrying Thomas and travels to England to the Sharpes' huge, though run-down estate Allerdale Hall. Unfortunately for Edith, Thomas and Lucille may be hiding some deep secrets from their new family member, the least of which being that Allerdale Hall may be haunted with ghosts of the Sharpe family's past.
From the outset, Crimson Peak excels in all areas related to design with larger than life, though realistically detailed sets by Tom Sanders and luxuriously extravagant costumes by Kate Hawley (both overlooked by the Academy last year). However, once one moves beyond the way things look, the film feels empty and fails to deliver on its promise of suspense. Director and co-writer del Toro can't maintain tension via his story and direction, and considering the foreboding production design it's disappointing that the gothic nature of the horror aspect of the tale falls flat.
While Tom Hiddleston plays things relatively straight, Mia Wasikowska's Edith is too much of a blank, emotionless slate to really carry the film on her shoulders. Jessica Chastain fares worse, however, as she almost laughably chews up the scenery with her character's chilly vibe. Some may find her role a bright spot in the film, but I found her performance misplaced amongst the rest of the cast as if she was acting in a different movie than everyone else. Yes, her portrayal feels very old school 1940s film-esque, but it just doesn't mesh with everything else. The lack of cohesiveness in the performances is certainly mirrored in the lack of del Toro's ability to amp of the drama and suspense in a film that so desperately requires that tension to exist.
The RyMickey Rating: C-