Crimson Peak

Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Rating: A

“It’s not a ghost story. It’s a story with ghosts in it. The ghosts are a metaphor for the past.” -Edith

Edith has a special perception to ghosts, having been visited by her dead mother shortly after her funeral. Since then, Edith has believed in the supernatural and it has inspired her to use them in a novel she’s been writing. Her own life has lacked adventure and romance, but that quickly changes when a baronet from England has come to America looking for investors. It’s a whirlwind romance for Edith, while her father and the baronet’s sister both disapprove of it.

When Edith’s father dies unexpectedly, Baronet Thomas Sharpe makes a proposal and Edith is swept away to a desolate manor in England. Thomas has been inventing machinery to dig up red clay on his property to make his fortune. Due to the nature of the clay, which can turn into liquid, it has been sinking the house slowly for decades as well as using up all of his own fortune. Edith lives uncomfortably in the manor and is visited by crimson ghosts. She starts to realize her new husband has been keeping secrets from her, which threaten her new life abroad.

Welcome to your new home. Don’t mind the gaping holes in the roof and also, mind the ghosts.

Crimson Peak is a stunning Gothic thriller that, although lacks horror, has enough mystery and suspense to terrify audiences. There’s a contrast between the Sharpe siblings and Edith that is used to foreshadow the darkness that follows the Sharpe family. The manor is falling apart, and it has holes in the roof which let leaves and snow fall inside, making the manor cold. Edith is always in bright clothes and smiling, because she is in love. She ignores the gloominess that surrounds her. The wooden floor bleeds and the grounds outside seep red clay which gives a perfect setting for a daunting story.

Lucille (Chastain), Thomas’ sister, is not welcoming when Edith arrives to their home. She’s cold and acts superior as the lady who runs the house. Thomas is rarely to be seen and Edith is left alone to entertain herself. The nearest town is too far away to visit, and Lucille is hardly one to spend an afternoon chatting with her new sister-in-law. Over time, Edith begins to notice strange things such as coughing up blood in the middle of the night, and hearing a moan upstairs. Her explorations around the house and interactions with ghosts make her determined to leave, but her husband won’t let her go.

Hiddleston and Chastain make a great pair as onscreen siblings. Every time they meet, it’s apparent they’re up to no good and are a conniving pair. They look regal and elegant, in their dark clothing that represents their social standing. Wasikowska has lately played a few roles in the period costume, which makes her a justifiable candidate to play the innocent Edith. She looks so pure when standing next to Thomas and Lucille, who have tried to survive despite not having any fortune left.

Crimson Peak avoids the use of jump scares and instead opts for patience because the ending results in a thrilling climax. As the plot unwinds, which can be a little predictable, it nevertheless remains to entertain and hold viewers in suspense. This is a movie I’d buy on DVD because of how beautiful and thrilling it was in its storytelling.


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