Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Humman, Jim Beaver

Although I am not generally a horror movie fan, I have enjoyed several films by del Toro (THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH). The gothic elements and the artfulness made me overlook the fear issue. CRIMSON PEAK is perhaps the most gothic of his films. It concerns a young heiress, Edith (Wasikowska) who’s seduced by a baronet and sped away to his English home after the death of her father. At Allendale, a dilapidated estate where Tom (Hiddleston) is mostly preoccupied with trying to invent a way mine clay, Edith is at the mercy of his sister (Chastain). Her early independence (she is trying to be a writer) quickly disappears as she turns into the traditional gothic heroine in a story such as this.

The ghosts in the story are cast in the unusual role of a cautionary chorus. So although they may look pretty frightening their good intentions mitigate any fear. Jessica Chastain is the thing to dread in the end and she runs away with the film-or what there is to run away with. The movie often feels like a hodgepodge of other movies and other stories. The most original element was the house itself and the atmosphere of dread. It is very hard to tell a good ghost story, isn’t it?

Patti Abbott
In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.