If you’ve been watching the marketing blitz for Crimson Peak as the release draws nigh, you may have noticed a distinct shift in how people are talking about the film. Over the past several weeks, critics, journalists, the film’s actors, and even Guillermo del Toro himself have all pushed the idea that Crimson Peak is not horror.
The above featurette from Legendary — 0:02 — “Crimson Peak is a gothic romance…”
The above featurette from IMAX — 0:01 — “Guillermo wanted to make a classical gothic romance…”
The above featurette from Variety — 0:35 — “…costume designer for Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance…”
So what’s the deal? A film that’s been marketed as horror for the majority of its hype time, a film that’s been in the can for a while and held back specifically for October, a film with freaky fucked-up ghosts is suddenly being marketed as a gothic romance?
Notice how often those two words are used in the images and videos above. It’s as if there’s been a push by PR to rebrand the movie just a few short weeks before its release.
Legendary got burned just a tiny bit in the critical and audience reactions to Godzilla. The film did well here, but perhaps not as well as they’d hoped. There was a lot of chatter online about how people thought the film’s trailers led them to believe that Bryan Cranston was the protagonist, and that the film might be heavier on action. If you saw Godzilla, you may have felt the disparity between the film you saw and the film they sold you on.
It feels to me as if there’s been a mandate to reset expectations for Crimson Peak, so that audiences won’t go in expecting to see something that’ll scare the popcorn out of their laps. Crimson Peak is not that film. It’s lavish and sexy and big, but weeks from now I think we’ll all agree that it is indeed horror. But for now, I guess we’ll all have to shut up and agree that isn’t. After all, that’s what everyone is saying. It must be true.