Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo del Toro and released in 2015, is a gothic horror tale about a girl falling in love with a boy and moving into his castle with him. Now, while that may sound like a fairy tale, the events leading up to her moving and the events preceding are quite horrific. Mia Wasikowska plays Edith Cushing, the girl mentioned above, an aspiring author who falls for the dashing baronet Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston. After the death of her father Edith agrees to move to Allerdale Hall, the mansion that Thomas Sharpe lives in with his sister Lucille, played by Jessica Chastain. Lucille is a gloomy and despondent woman who seems to be hiding something, along with her brother.
The performances from Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain are excellent, with Jessica Chastain being an absolute standout. Mia Wasikowska is good in her role, but unfortunately, her character spends the majority of the movie in a passive role with decisions being made for her rather than making decisions for herself. While this may seem like a criticism, and to be fair it is a little bit, I think it is interesting what Del Toro does with her character in the latter part of the film. While she is passive for the majority of the first half she begins becoming more active, making things happen for herself, in the second half of the movie. I find this interesting that this change comes in her character not long after she says, “Characters talk to you and transform; they make choices,” whether this was intentional on Del Toro’s part I’m not sure, but never the less it is interesting and I believe of note.
The real star of this movie is the house, Allerdale Hall, also known as Crimson Peak. The house is an entity; a dead and rotting corpse with bleeding walls. The production design done by Tom Sanders is absolutely breathtaking; I don’t think I have ever wanted to live in a broken-down house more in my life. The ghosts that inhabit the movie are also quite extraordinary. Created with a mixture of practical effects and CGI the ghosts have an eerie atmosphere about them and it is hard for the audience to fully understand their purpose and motive until the end of the film.
Crimson Peak is an excellent gothic horror that features elements of mystery, romance, and fairy tales. Guillermo Del Toro’s movie are hard to place in a box even though on the surface they appear to be simple genre films. This is definitely a movie worth checking out if you are a fan of romantic gothic horror.