Planting bloody handprints is all in a (long) day’s work for Guillermo Del Toro

guillermo del toro crimson peak
“In two weeks, this will be gone forever. It’s a f–king shame.”

Those are the first words Guillermo del Toro says on the Toronto set of Universal and Legendary’s Crimson Peak, as he greets Digital Trends on the outskirts of the massive haunted house set constructed specifically for his new movie. Over the next few hours, we will wander through the painstakingly detailed set, its grand foyer, its twisting staircase, its dimly lit library, its decaying third floor.

Until then, we can only take del Toro at his word that the monstrous mansion at the heart of Crimson Peak is a thing of horrible beauty — and it’s not a difficult promise to swallow, considering the love and admiration in del Toro’s voice, as he comes closer to accepting that in a matter of days, the set will cease to exist.

I’m a Victorian nut about Gothic romance, and I haven’t had a chance to do that at all”

On the day of our visit, del Toro is deep into production on Crimson Peak; he has only 68 days to shoot the film, all told. It’s a tighter schedule than he’s used to. (“Pac Rim was 100 days, and Hellboy 1 was 135,” he tells us.) But he’s ready for it, thanks in no small part to his work directing the pilot of FX’s The Strain, the new vampire series based on del Toro’s novels co-written by Chuck Hogan.

“I went into training mode on The Strain, shooting 76-78 minutes in 20 days,” he says. “I came out of that saying, ’68 days? Fantastic!'”

For del Toro, the days bleed together. The man barely sleeps. “Very little; about four hours,” he estimates. When he’s not working on Crimson Peak, he’s on the nearby set of The Strain, casually popping in and out to offer his advice and wisdom, and to occasionally lend a literal helping hand.

“I go as far as to put blood on [the set],” he says. “There’s a scene [in The Strain] with a bunch of bloody handprints, and they’re mine.”

Del Toro is not overworked, however. He’s elated. After smashing giant robots against giant monsters in Pacific Rim (a feat he’ll repeat for 2017’s Pacific Rim sequel), Crimson Peak, and even the horror-minded The Strain, are firmly at the core of what makes del Toro’s heart tick.

“This lands literally in my wheelhouse,” he says. “It flows incredibly easy. I’m a Victorian nut about Gothic romance, and I haven’t had a chance to do that at all [in my career]. So it’s in the same way that I was and am a robot fan; I hadn’t done that [until Pacific Rim]. It’s pretty cool to fulfill the things you wanted to do.”

It’s even cooler to fulfill those dreams with the right team. After some stumbles early on in the casting process, del Toro arrived at an all-star lineup of actors to play the four lead roles at the center of the Crimson Peak chaos.

Mia Wasikowska stars as an American author named Edith, who leaves her home country behind for a new life in England with her new husband, Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston. (Benedict Cumberbatch was first cast in the role; upon his sudden departure, Hiddleston was called upon for the role, and del Toro says an agreement was reached virtually overnight.) Edith and Thomas are not alone; they live in the rotting Sharpe family estate alongside Thomas’ sinister sister Lucille, played by Jessica Chastain. And before long, a man from Edith’s past, would-be suitor Doctor McMichael (Charlie Hunnam, late of del Toro’s Pacific Rim), comes to the Sharpes’ mansion as well.

What Edith and McMichael find is a harrowing horror at the heart of an ancient abode — sickening secrets and twisted turns that slowly unravel and reveal themselves in increasingly insidious ways. As for the exact nature of those secrets? Del Toro’s lips are sealed; likewise, his actors are sworn to secrecy, preferring to let the nastiness at the bleeding heart of Crimson Peak unfold at its natural pace.

For now, at least, del Toro is ready to lead us and fellow journalists through the doors of his haunted house — a house that, sadly, as of this writing, no longer exists in reality. In little more than a year, however, the house of Crimson Peak will etch itself into the hearts and minds of moviegoers brave enough to face del Toro’s latest labor of love. And closer to that release date, we’ll tell you all about what we saw inside.

Crimson Peak opens on October 16, 2015.

Movies & TV

How Avengers: Infinity War’s Oscar-nominated VFX team made Thanos a movie star

The purple-skinned Thanos proved to be a breakout character in Avengers: Infinity War, thanks to the work of actor Josh Brolin and visual effects studios Digital Domain and Weta. Here's how they brought him to life and earned the film an…
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Smart Home

After camera hacks, Nest locks customers out until they change their password

Nest is locking people out of their accounts if it believes there may have been a breach. Users will have to set up a new, secure password before they are able to regain access to their account.
Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.

Alita: Battle Angel’s big opening weekend leads weak holiday box office

New box-office champion Alita: Battle Angel outperformed expectations with its big premiere and positive reviews from critics, but Presidents' Day weekend is still off to a slow start.
Movies & TV

Why First Man’s Oscar-nominated visual effects are a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the award-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later and…

FA Cup: Watch Chelsea vs. Manchester United with ESPN Plus 7-day free trial

Chelsea and Manchester United are facing off in an exciting FA Cup match, with the fifth round - a tie match - slated for Monday. Die-hard fans of English football can stream the game anywhere at any time with ESPN Plus, and here's how to…
Movies & TV

Netflix completes its breakup with Marvel, cancels The Punisher, Jessica Jones

Two of Netflix's last-remaining Marvel shows have been canceled by the video streaming service. The Punisher is done after two seasons and Jessica Jones will be finished after its still-unreleased third season.
Movies & TV

Bill and Ted 3 celebrates the franchise's 30th birthday with excellent teaser

As the Bill and Ted franchise turns 30, a third installment that the cast and creative team call Bill and Ted Face the Music is officially in preproduction, though there are big hurdles to overcome.
Movies & TV

Amazon's Lord of the Rings series gets an interactive map of Middle-earth

Amazon Studios is betting big on its Lord of the Rings prequel series, which has a multiseason commitment and a budget of more than $1 billion. The series' first season will arrive by 2021.
Home Theater

Amazon ups the ante with Netflix, aims to release up to 30 movies a year

Netflix has a huge budget for both licensed and original content. But Amazon Studios isn't far behind. Studio chief Jennifer Salke revealed a plan to do 30 theatrical and direct-to-Amazon Prime titles this year alone.
Movies & TV

To drive its giant virtual world, Ready Player One needed a custom A.I. engine

Steven Spielberg and a visual effects team led by Roger Goyett built a new, virtual universe populated by a host of familiar characters for the Oscar-nominated Ready Player One, but they still had to maintain a powerful emotional depth in…
Movies & TV

An Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series might be headed to Disney Plus

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney Plus compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.