Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lives in New York at the turn of the 20th century and wants to be a novelist. A friendly visionist (Charlie Hunnam) loves her, but it’s Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who’s trying to raise money to mine the unique red clay under his English estate.
When Edith’s father dies unexpectedly, Thomas and his girlfriend, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), go to Sharpe, a fantastic place filled with black butterflies; a red goop; stunning, breathtaking corridors; rooms that are banned; and ghosts; she walks away with her sister. When Edith is weaker, she wants to learn the secrets of the fantasies.
Director Guillermo Del Toro is willing but seems more interested in a magnificent ghost house concept to explore the actual depth of the disturbing. All is surface, but what a field! The house is one of the most spectacular things ever built for an unsettling film with its spinning leaves, black butterflies, white snow, and bloody red clone, and the ghosts (carved by actor Doug Jones) are disfigured sending a cold down your neck.
Inspired by literature from the 19th century, Crimson Peak is borrowed from dark Hollywood romances such as Gaslight and Infamous. Del Toro never gets into it; we don’t know what it feels or why these things haunt him. It’s a tribute for days gone by. The actors are all okay (especially Hiddleston, who looks like he was born for this period). It’s more sophisticated than profound—closer it’s than Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy II: The Golden Army—but it’s a whole new experience yet.