I really wanted to like this film more than I did because I'm fond of gothic romances, especially those old AIP Poe cycle pictures, Guillermo del Toro has so much talent, and there's a wonderful cast assembled here. But it's a mess.
All through the film I kept thinking "that's needlessly expensive" and "you don't need that" - it would have been a much better movie had they focused the action, and improved the atmosphere. This took forever to have gotten going - it could have started with Mia Wasikowska's father paying off Tom Hiddleston, and established everything else as back story.
Characters and things are set up and never used - the bitchy mother figure who gives Wasikowska a hard time; Hiddleston's servant; the fact Wasikowska is a writer; the thing about the clay bricks; the fact Wasikowska keeps being visited by ghosts by doesn't tell anyone; a long scene which sets up seeing dead people in photos. You could even cut the ghosts out of the whole story and it would still work.
The actual story itself isn't bad, though familiar, full of tropes we've seen before in films like Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Gaslight, The Innocent: fortune hunting aristocrats, mysterious doings in the attic, ghosts, incest, people going mad and/or being poisoned. Wasikowska isn't a bad leading lady once you got used to her hair (often over her eyes); I like Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston, and it was fun to see Charlie Hunnam in the "John Kerr role".
But del Toro never quite gets the tone right - it's spooky and gothic with gore splattered throughout. It could have done with a few more old fashioned scares.