Crimson Peak (2015)


In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers (from IMDb).
                        
                                  Rating:☆ 

Guillermo Del Toro, the visionary who created the worlds of Pacific Rim and Pan's Labyrinth, is back to give us the gothic masterpiece that is Crimson Peak. Since Del Toro wrote, directed and produced this haunting tale, I knew I would be in for something extraordinary when the lights went down in the cinema, and boy did he knock it out of the park. The world of Crimson Peak is magnificent. There is so much colour and detail, and darkness. Whether or not you appreciate the story line itself, you must appreciate how beautiful the set and the costumes are. 


The film follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a young woman who has always had the ability to see ghosts and prefers to spend her days writing her novel than socializing with others. Her father is very supportive of her aspirations, even if he would prefer to see her married off, and they have a very caring relationship. Edith is young and, despite what she believes, a romantic. When she meets Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), she is immediately fascinated by him and wishes to know more, all because he is charming and likes her story. That is, of course, the beginning of her downfall. As the film progresses, Edith is sucked into a life with Thomas, one that takes her away from all she knows in America, to the crumbling Allerdale Hall in England. While she believes this to be the logical step once she and Thomas are married, it is actually a move by the Sharpes to make her more isolated than ever. Edith has no idea what she's been caught up in, who she is up against, but she soon discovers nothing is as it seems with her new husband and sister-in-law, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). 

The plot I found interesting, and it moved at the right pace for a gothic romance. So, it's not all about big action scenes or terrifying moments. The fear comes from the setting, from the mystery of the characters and the darkness they hide within themselves. Crimson Peak is not a horror film, and it wasn't written to be.  The ghosts are not central to the plot - they are there to serve as a warning to Edith that Thomas and Lucille are not to be trusted. As Edith says, talking about her own unpublished novel, this is not a ghost story; it is a story with ghosts in it. If you go expecting to see a horror film, with jump scares and ghosts who haunt those in the house, you will, like my sister was, be very disappointed with what you're seeing. 

Edith's married life as Lady Sharpe does mirror that of her book, as in the beginning she feels love is not important to her novel, as with her life, but discovers the very important role love can play. Whether it's the devotion of a friend who wishes to be more, such is the way with Dr McMichael who comes all the way from America to England as he fears for Edith's safety, or with Lucille, who would do anything to help her brother's dreams come true. 

Allerdale Hall is known by the locals as 'Crimson Peak' due to the red clay on the grounds that seeps into the snow when it falls, turning it crimson. The house is a marvel, with its grand staircase, decrepit furnishings and crumbling ceiling. I wish I'd be able to visit the set, as there is just so much thought put in to every furnishing. Del Toro stated there were even different sizes of furniture made, and in each shot a large size would be used in order to make Edith look smaller and more out of place in the house. Who even thinks of that? 

My favourite character is Lucille Sharpe, a woman long since trapped in a house that is falling down around her, whose only comfort in life has been the brother who shared her suffering. Lucille is dark and twisted, and Chastain is excellent in the role. Definitely the scene stealer she was predicted to be. Her character is the opposite of the young and naive Edith, who was brought up in a loving home, and so their clash of personalities and their expectations of how life at Allerdale Hall should be are great. 

This movie saw a lot of changes in the cast at the start of the production. Initially cast were Benedict Cumberbatch and Emma Stone, as Sir Thomas and Edith Cushing respectively. To be honest I can't see either of them in the roles, and neither of them seem suited for a gothic romance. Cumberbatch would have probably been very good, but Stone was definitely not right for the role. She is a very good actress, and I've enjoyed her in most of her roles, I just can't imagine her as Edith. Whereas Wasikowska could fit into any time, be it modern or historic, and fit in flawlessly, Stone just seems too modern, too strong. Wasikowska is far more delicate, and Edith is delicate as well, which is why the Sharpes are interested in her in the first place. 

I do recommend going to see it, but it depends on the type of person you are whether you will enjoy it or not. I know gothic romance isn't for everyone, as it focuses on haunting themes and taboos of the time. It focuses on people, not action.  It's important to watch and listen carefully, as any questions you have will have, no doubt, been answered or alluded to somewhere in the film. As an audience you are not spoon-fed exposition; it's up to you to figure it out for yourself by paying attention. That was something I enjoyed, as films today are always so packed with exposition, so easy to guess where the plot is going. With Crimson Peak I genuinely had no idea who would make it to the film alive. It could have been everyone, or no one. 

If I had to criticise anything, it would be that Lucille wasn't on screen enough. And also the cut scenes; the weird James-Bond like zoom. They distressed me to no end, as it seemed so childish for such a sleek film.

I will definitely be buying this film when it's released, and watching it for years no doubt. If you guys want to look any more into it, or watch some interviews of Del Toro and the cast explaining the world of Crimson Peak and the plot, please do. I've attached the trailer here (Crimson Peak Trailer), as well as a fantastic interview with the cast and Del Toro by Google where they go into great detail about the film and explain what they wanted to achieve with it (Crimson Peak Interview).















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