A young girl (Mia Wasikowska) suffers a nightmare where the ghost of her mother warns her of the dangers of Crimson Peak, a decade or so on the same young woman is won over by a devilishly handsome and charming Englishman (Tom Hiddlestone). She marries him and moves to England where she begins to experience some ghostly going ons.
First and foremost if you go into Crimson Peak expecting a straight horror movie as the trailers seem to suggest then you are going to being a tad disappointed. That, of course, doesn't mean Crimson Peak isn't without its horrifying moments which are strongly influenced by the gothic horror genre. In fact, the film is more of a Gothic Romance that just happens to have ghosts. It's a film that's influenced by Hitchcock's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca where the Laurence Oliver role is played Tom Hiddlestone and the Joan Fontaine played by Mia Wasikowska whilst Jessica Chastain's performance as Lady Lucille Sharpe is certainly channelling that of Judith Anderson's vile Mrs. Danvers.
The performances by the three main players are excellent (though Mia Wasikowska's performance is possibly the weakest of the three), Hiddlestone's has this perfect flattering charm in his performance and Jessica Chastain really does put everything into her role. However, despite the good performance from the main players, which undoubtedly helps the film become a gripping one and overcome the film's not so great screenplay (some of the dialogue could have been tidied up), they are out staged by something else that takes centre stage.
Crimson Peak is a film designed to within an inch of its life, the colour and composition is marvellous, the cinematography and framing spectacular and the costume design is magnificent. Best of all, however, is the set design that brings the aging, decaying house to life. It almost becomes a character of its own. The attention to detail, and great visual touches from director Guillermo del Toro helps make the film an immersive experience.
Though that said it is somewhat disappointing that Del Toro, whose films featured some terrifying and imaginative monsters created with great practical effects, would create such unimpressive ghosts which don't come close to likes the of The Faun and The Blind Man from Pan's Labyrinth in terms of creativity and effectiveness.