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10 Films to Watch Before Seeing ‘Crimson Peak’

Written by on October 14, 2015 

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Regardless of the budget at his disposal, Guillermo del Toro always incorporates a wide range of influences in his films — just look at Pan’s Labyrinth, or take a quick peek at a recently launched Twitter account that puts other directors’ use of the platform to shame — and it’s no different with his forthcoming Crimson Peak.

We said in our review, “Crimson Peak works as many things: a melodramatic romance; both the recreation of a period and a revival of the way movies have made us perceive it; a genre-jumping comedy; and a critique of capitalistic excess. It does these things earnestly and without compromise, and it’s far braver — far more admirable — for having done so. What Guillermo del Toro’s new film doesn’t work as: a haunted-house picture.”

So if you’re seeking something to fill the horror void or want a few options that are similar in tone to his latest picture, look no further. We’ve gathered ten recommendations, ranging from a few of his own features to haunted-house classics to period romantic dramas and beyond. Check out our list below and let us know what you’d recommend in the comments.

Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)

Black Narcissus

Rather than a haunted house, Black Narcissus‘ place of tormented isolation is found on a remote Himalayan mountain where a group of well-meaning nuns get slowly seduced by desires. As the hysteria bubbles due to psychological repression — not unlike Wasikowska’s character in Crimson PeakPowell and Pressburger craft a beguiling yarn of moral battles. One of their most singularly untamed films, it also ranks among their best. See it also for the attention it brought to Deborah Kerr, who’ll be mentioned later on in this list.

The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)

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We’d be remiss to forget Guillermo del Toro‘s two best films, each of which carry a few similarities to his latest. “I go very counter to the culture of ghost stories. I just want the ghosts to be, and then make it a creepy movie, rather than one based on scares. Make it an atmospheric movie, which is creepy, yes, but the more you attend to the story the more you’re hopefully invested in the human characters – good or evil – and the more the ghosts become a palpable threat,” he tells IGN. “I think I did it in Devil’s Backbone, which is still one of my favorite movies I’ve done, and I hope we’ve pulled off something similar here. It’s a very different movie, but it’s similar in certain ways.” Indeed, Crimson Peak harkens back to his bolder Spanish-language filmmaking days of putting emotion above scares, albeit with a much bigger budget this time around.

The Haunting (Robert Wise)

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“To me [the classic old haunted-house movie] is Robert Wise’s The Haunting, which was a big movie, beautifully directed, with the house built magnificently,” del Toro said before he even shot his latest feature. In both The Haunting and Crimson Peak, the similarities go beyond just an immaculate production design; it’s also that his characters have (or form) a perverse attraction to the soul of their respective antique residences. Both titles — though to a much greater extent in Wise’s picture — show that the right dose of unsettling architecture and horrifying Feng Shui can seep into one’s consciousness and have fatal consequences.

The Innocents (Jack Clayton)

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While set-ups similar to Crimson Peak‘s can be found in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Old Dark House, and The Uninvited, we can’t think of one more analogous, design-wise, than Jack Clayton‘s wonderfully eerie The Innocents. In what could be a perfect prequel to Guillermo del Toro‘s latest film — he even calls it a prime influence — the story follows a pair of too-perfect, ultimately tormented children (see: younger versions of Chastain and Hiddleston’s Crimson Peak characters) as they wreak slowly percolating havoc on their new caretaker, Deborah Kerr‘s Miss Giddens. From the Victorian candle holders to the wide staircases with pronounced bannisters, it could also have more or less the same set as the back half of del Toro’s new feature.

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