Guillermo del Toro, the mastermind behind such movies as "Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy" and "Pacific Rim," brings his Gothic horror "Crimson Peak" to theaters this weekend. The trailers for the film look delightfully creepy and full of ghosts, a treat for horror lovers.
It is a treat, but it's not necessarily a horror movie, as MTV News staffers found out at a preview screening. Viewers at both ends of the horror spectrum -- the horror-hating Kase Wickman and the scream-craving Shaunna Murphy -- loved the movie, so we're pretty sure you'll be into it too, whatever your feelings about blood-curdling terror on the big screen.
Here's why you'll love "Crimson Peak," from a weenie and a scream queen.
Why Horror-Hater Kase Wickman Loved It
Some people say they don’t like horror, but I really don’t like horror. I have memories of watching “The Blair Witch Project” with my older brother and spending just as much time staring out of the darkened living room window in fear that that nonsense was right outside as I did actually watching the movie. After I saw “Leprechaun,” you can bet I never sat at a table before looking under it to make sure there was no maniacal creature on a tricycle down there to touch my leg.
I recently went to Disneyworld and faced riding the Haunted Mansion ride for the first time. My friends pointed at an especially chill 7-year-old girl waiting in line with her parents. “She’s not concerned, what’s the matter with you?”
I’m a big ole weenie, that’s what’s the matter with me.
And guess what? “Crimson Peak” didn’t scare this big ole weenie.
I went into Guillermo del Toro’s Goth horror movie expecting big scares, copious blood and ghosts who wanted to murder me. Instead, I found really beautiful period costumes, a really poorly maintained mansion and Jessica Chastain’s filthiest looks. And I loved it.
“Crimson Peak” is camp and lush in all the best ways. There’s not a single hemline the filmmakers didn’t drag through some filth in an artful way, and the acting wasn’t the HD realism that we tend to see in today’s movies. Instead, we got the romanticized Victorian ideal of sisters who never forgive, ghosts who just want to show you different things around the house and Tom Hiddleston being So Tragically Confused. He just wants to love his wife and build a giant clay scooper! Jessica Chastain only wants to side-eye and serve extremely questionable tea. The ghosts, well. They’re just kinda ghosting and ruining Mia Wasikowska’s baths.
There are a few jump scares, yes, and a few gory moments, but nothing that I’ll be having stress dreams over. No, save that for the dead-eyed people in line in front of me at Starbucks. “Crimson Peak” wasn’t scary, but it was great.
Why Horror-Lover Shaunna Murphy Also Loved It
Let’s get this out of the way first — no, “Crimson Peak” is in no way, shape or form a “horror” movie, and the trailers positioning it as such will probably do it no favors, if that’s what millions of Americans are going to cram into theaters expecting. However, that doesn’t mean that those of us who love the genre can’t get a kick out of the pure visual delight, fantastic sense of humor, creepy mystery, and Jessica Chastain performance that should come to define “Crimson Peak.”
When I first saw the trailers for “Peak” — and decided not to read much more about the film, since with horror, I prefer to go in uninformed — I was definitely expecting a classically scary haunted house story, with jump scares aplenty and the visual aesthetic of “Penny Dreadful.” The “Penny Dreadful” aesthetic stands, though with a budget that would make Showtime executives swan dive into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck, but the jump scares are definitely lacking minus a few crucial moments. I was truly scared all of two times during “Crimson Peak;” managing to emerge from the theater with my nails fully intact.
But you know what? That’s OK! The whole time I was watching “Crimson Peak,” I was not missing the psychological isolation terror of “The Babadook” or the minimalist masterpiece of “It Follows,” two of the best horror films in recent years (OK, maybe a little), because I was too busy having fun exploring a gorgeous gothic manor, populated by two possibly incestuous creeps and a sweet, scrappy heroine trapped by a serious of horrible circumstances that she herself chose. Like, I’m a horror fan and all, but I also love a twisted love story with painstaking detail spent on nailing the classic beats of the gothic genre. And if that story happens to feature a spooky, imposing, and probably evil Jessica Chastain, all the better.
Because that’s really what this is all about, people — the self-dubbed Chastainiac, who finally proves that she is worth her nickname in the role of Lucille. Lucille is just as scary a monster as an Annie Wilkes or a ‘Dook, but with fabulously sinister Victorian gowns, a purposefully campy accent, and some sharp one-liners that could probably cut steel. It’s a blast to watch her slither through the background until she blows the f—k up, even if she’ll probably inspire more #YESQUEEN memes than full-on nightmares.
Basically, the TL;DR of this is horror fans: come for the goth aesthetic and the creepy siblings story over the horror, and stay for the madcap Chastain. You won’t regret it.
"Crimson Peak" hits theaters October 16. Beware.