Crimson Peak opens with a young Edith Cushing narrating the first time she saw a ghost – her mother’s. The dark disfigured ghost offers a menacing warning to the young girl “Beware of Crimson Peak”. But what does Edith (Mia Wasikowska) do 14 years later? Yep, you guessed it! She heads off to Crimson Peas with the dashing Baronett Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddelston). Although to be fair she didn’t know that his house was colloquially known as ‘Crimson Peak’, so maybe Mother should’ve been more specific. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Edith Cusing is an aspiring author but her work isn’t appreciated due to her gender and the values of the time (the 1920s). She prefers the comfort of her home to glamorous parties occurring around the town, but when invited to a dance by the Baronett she becomes enamoured. Their relationship only strengthens and eventually they marry. The opening quarter of the film had a very ‘Pride and Prejudice’ feel, which just added to the charm of the two main characters.
Once Edith and Thomas finally move to Crimson Peak, with Thomas’ sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) the film enters into it’s gothic glory. It’s here that Edith begins experiencing strange occurrences and apparitions – slowly uncovering the mystery surrounding her husband and sister-in-law. The house itself is fantastic, it has a strange beauty to it. In the first indoor shots we watch as autumn leaves gently drift down into the entrance way from the hole in the roof. My only problem with the setting was that the reason it was called ‘Crimson Peak’ is that during winter the red ore in the ground would bleed through the snow – making it look like blood. I thought this was almost a cop out – there were so many reasons within the film that the place could have been called ‘Crimson Peak’.
The film was great, there’s no doubt about that. My main concern with the film was that it had too many elements. I believe the film would have been much more effective if it had just streamlined the story, rather than having this continuous unveiling of plots and subplots. By the end of the film I felt a bit frustrated, a majority of the film could have been avoided if the ghosts had just been a bit clearer in their directions – this is something that generally irks me in films – why include an eerie warning when in real life it would have been said much more directly?
Overall it’s a fantastic del Toro film, the designs of the set are stunning, particularly the stark contrast between Edith’s home in America and the ominous Crimson peak. While it doesn’t quite live up to the standard of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ or ‘Pacific Rim’ it’s definitely a must see this Halloween season!
(Where 0 is a Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode and 5 is the Ju-On)
Till next time 🙂