Is ‘Crimson Peak’ Guillermo del Toro’s First Good English Film?

The trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s next movie has debuted and it looks like the creep master might have made his a film worthy of legitimate critical acclaim for the first time since his 2006 Spanish-language dark fantasy masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth. Crimson Peak is a horror movie in the old-fashioned haunted house tradition that looks like it has del Toro in his element, pulling out all the stops to engage terrifying visuals and scare the crap out of viewers. A top-notch cast including Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain means this will be much more than your average Halloween slasher.

In the past Del Toro has separated his “good” movies (Spanish-language efforts) from his more commercial and fun English-language efforts like Hellboy and Pacific Rim. Clearly comic book and pulpy films still have a place in the director’s heart, but he told iO9 that the chance to direct and produce Crimson Peak changed his perspective on his ability to do more thoughtful work in English. “I wanted to make a movie that was able to blend two sides of my personality. After I did MimicMimic was such a tough experience that I said, ‘I’m going to do the painfully beautiful and creepy things in my Spanish-language films, and I’m going to do the big sort of pop-pulp fun movies in English.’”

Pan’s Labyrinth won three Oscars, was nominated for three others, and continues to be included on lists of the greatest recent movies, including the IMDb 250 compiled by the Internet Movie Database’s most loyal users. That film is a study of the Spanish Civil War and how a young girl uses her imagination to escape her brutal reality. After making Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro focused more on the “pop-pulp fun” movies with Hellboy II in 2008 and Pacific Rim in 2013. His new horror TV show The Strain on FX has gotten decent reception and has been picked up for another season. Nothing he’s made since Pan’s Labyrinth has gotten the same kind of critical acclaim, but Crimson Peak could change that.

Like Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak has a young female heroine at its center. While there is an element of romance used to kick off the story, as is common in the gothic tradition, del Toro says that was never meant to be the focus.

“I wanted to tackle a great adult story for a female lead,” del Toro told iO9. “I think it’s great when the female lead [is in] a normal romantic story, but then we live past that. Past getting the guy — fuck all that shit — we see her becoming her own person. We do what is done in gothic romance. We have the thriller aspect of it, we have the romance, brutal moments, and we have scary ghosts — but scarier people than ghosts. It’s a beautiful confection, and I hope you enjoy it.”

The trailer is certainly enough to get gothic horror fans excited. Wasikowska plays Hiddleston’s young bride, who moves into the terrifying old mansion that Hiddleston shares with his sister, played by Chastain. The longer she stays, the more danger she discovers lurking in her new home as she simultaneously comes to realize she can’t escape it. A cover of Nick Cave’s demonic song “Red Right Hand” perfectly accompanies the unsettling scenes that unfold. Crimson Peak is timed perfectly for Halloween with an October release.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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