Crimson Peak: Teaches Us Not to Fear Ghosts of Our Pasts, but People of our Present
The visual mastermind behind movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and the Orphanage has returned with another gorgeous movie that is eye candy from beginning to end. Crimson Peak has been largely advertised for months as a Gothic horror with bone chilling ghosts promising a haunted house adventure, however the movie is anything but scary. But before you call foul, even Guillermo Del Toro himself fully admitted on Twitter his movie is a Gothic romance, not a horror. So really, this is the fault of the studio. However, with that noted, the film still delivers in every other area; a compelling story, interesting characters, some mystery, and of course beautifully designed sets, costumes, and colors.
The film opens on the main character, Edith Cushing, played by Mia Wasikowska, stating she knows ghosts are real, and she’s seen them. With a flash back, she explains after the passing of her mother, she saw her mother’s ghost which warns her to beware of Crimson Peak. Of course, this is all mystery since Edith is but a child during this and has no idea what Crimson Peak even is. The story continues in her present time as a young adult. We are introduced to her father, a business man, and learn that Edith is an aspiring writer. She soon meets Thomas Sharpe, played by the ever so popular Tom Hiddleston, an up coming business man hoping Edith’s father will invest in his new machine to mine a red clay in his home town. Unfortunately, Mr. Cushing is not a fan of Sharpe and is unwilling to invest. This only encourages Sharpe to woo his daughter Edith in hopes of convincing him further. They soon fall in love, a love that becomes forbidden by Mr. Cushing after some investigative work about Sharpe and his sister. He pays them off to leave town and also to break Edith’s heart in the process, which Thomas follows through on. The next morning, Edith’s father is mysteriously murdered, and this is when the story begins to take off!
After her fathers death, Edith returns to Thomas and marries. Together, they return to England with his sister to live at their family mansion, the Allerdale Hall. It is here we learn the red clay is underneath this family mansion. The family used to sell it and be wealthy, but the mines have since closed until Thomas can find a better way to mine them, hence his attempts at gaining outside investments. Throughout her time there, Edith begins to see ghosts, of different designs and colors. This leads her to explore the house more to learn its history.
As the movie progresses, we learn about the Sharpe’s family history and the past of Thomas and his sister Lucille. Mysteries begin to unfold, but the prominence of ghosts and even suspense for the matter begin to dwindle. That is when we learn this isn’t so much a ghost story, or haunted house movie, as it is a Gothic romance.
As a whole, Crimson Peak is a very good movie. The story is compelling and the plot moves along nicely. The acting is well done and the characters are on point. And of course, the visuals are amazing. I can’t say that enough. However, the movie lacks in any suspense or thrill. I had previously read reports that the house is a character of itself, and I supposed that’s correct to an extent, but when you compare it to other haunted house film, Crimson Peak as a house is wildly put on the back burner as a character. I was expecting it to move the plot forward, or be part of the mysteries and suspense we’d find in the movie, but in the end it fell flat. The plot has no twist ending, which isn’t a bad thing, but with this sort of movie, and director, I was expecting a big reveal at the end. The ‘problem’ is the surprise, if you want to call it that, is gradually told to us over the course of the film, and for me, it was pretty standard and predictable. The motive is a common one we’ve all seen before, but this time wrapped up in a pretty bow as a Gothic romance.
Crimson Peak doesn’t scare. It’s not meant to. If you want cheap scares, go see the next Paranormal Activity movie. What Del Toro has accomplished here is a visual masterpiece with a few horror elements thrown in and frame worked by a love story. It teaches us to not fear the ghosts of our past, but to fear the people of our present because too often, people are the true villain.
Rating – 7.4/10