Real estate, sexual passion and family secrets are crammed into the atmospheric thriller "Crimson Peak," directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Pacific Rim"). I have an inkling Del Toro dislikes modern society and abhors modern notions of security. His films always unfold in lavish settings that trigger all the senses — and safety seems to be banned from the premises.
To absorb the extraordinary details, colors, shapes and situations that are rife with layered danger is to witness this director's fierce commitment to his own vision of what life could, or should, be. Del Toro's latest, "Crimson Peak," is a case in point. Set in the early 20th century, the action takes place almost entirely in the confines of a dark, decaying, sprawling manor house in northern England called Allerdale Hall. The hall sits atop a mine of red clay that brings about all kinds of building stress: red liquid oozing from walls, thick red water clogging the pipes and trickling down faucets, as if the whole place is in a permanent state of menstrual seizure. From above, rain and snow constantly seep through the cracks in the gables and through the ceilings. Yuck.
But del Toro has always trafficked in very expensive, well curated yuck. And as a result, "Crimson Peak" is all sexy gothic decor mixed with dungeon-like discomfort. Sense the icy chill wafting in from doorways, hear the clang of many keys as one of the owners of the hall strolls from room to room. Speaking of which, each chamber is huge, cold and unforgiving, complete with trap doors, butlers' bells that don't work and locked armoires that most certainly contain skeletons.