Writer/director Guillermo del Toro has crafted a beautiful ghost story that unfortunately is more style than substance. What it lacks in scares, it makes up for in a gorgeous set piece of a haunted house.
When Thomas Sharpe (played by the dashing Tom Hiddleston) marries Edith Cushing ( a plucky Mia Wasikowska), he brings her home to to his crumbling mansion, nicknamed Crimson Peak because of the red clay under the grounds. He lives there with his sister (A very creepy Jessica Chastain). Part of the problem is that the second half of the film is just three characters, only one unfamiliar with the ghost that haunts the house. After one or two preliminary appearances, the ghost just isn't very scary. Ms. Chastain is actually the scariest thing in the film, her character revealing more and more of an evil side as the film progresses.
The first half of the film is all set up with one quick "scare" at the onset but it takes too long to get to the "haunted House" half of the film. Mr. Hiddleston is dashing but weak willed compared to his sister who has obvious plans for his new bride. Ms. Wasikowska is a luminescent heroine but how many times can we watch her wander the empty halls of the mansion? Charlie Hunnam also co-stars as a family friend of Edith's who harbors a secret love for her.
It's the mansion itself that is the star of the film. Mr. del Toro has a distinct visual style and pulls out all the stops with amazing art direction (and costumes for that matter). The ghosts of the film look creepy enough but there is a lack of suspense that dampens the scares.
Mr. del Toro will be had pressed to top his masterpiece, "Pan's Labyrinth" and for real scares, check out his earlier film "The Devil's Backbone".