Director Guillermo del Toro, who has long sung his praises for Disney’s Haunted Mansion amusement ride, makes a startlingly beautiful and creepy ride of his own with this twisted ghost story. Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring writer, must pick up the pieces after a tragic loss, and she finds herself swept away by Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a strange Englishman that looks a lot like Thor’s jerky brother.
They marry and wind up in his family’s home, which rests atop a red clay mine. The red clay seeps up through the ground and even the floorboards of the house, giving the appearance that everything is bleeding. As Edith spends more time in the house, and gets acquainted with its ghostly inhabitants, she finds out that the red stuff isn’t always clay. Jessica Chastain is memorably psychotic as Thomas’s selfish and conniving sister.
The visuals are the real star here, including some over-the-top, bloody ghosts that Walt would never allow in his Mansion. As for the actually alive characters, Hiddleston and Chastain steal the show as siblings who definitely need an extended time out. Future del Toro projects, like sequels to “Pacific Rim” and “Hellboy,” were put into turnaround before this film’s release.
The fact that this film inexplicably bombed at the box office means those sequels will probably remain on the studio merry-go-round for a long time. For del Toro fans, this is bad news.