Crimson Peak Review
Discover what lies behind the crumbling walls of Allerdale Hall.
It’s not a ghost story, but a story with ghosts in it explains Edith as she presents her manuscript to a rather unimpressed editor. And it’s those words that ultimately set Crimson Peak up.Aspiring writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) revels in her writing and would love nothing more than to be like her idol Mary Shelly. Following the death of her mother and a sinister warning from a nightmarish apparition at a young age, Edith finds herself channeling her active imagination into fictional stories. With her heart set on getting her novel published, Edith’s focus remains fixated on her writing instead of acquiring the perfect husband.That is until she encounters the handsome Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who is visiting America trying to get his latest invention funded by Carter Cushing, Edith’s father. Having taken an instant dislike to Thomas and aware of the blossoming relationship between him and his only daughter, Carter hires a private investigator to shed some light on the mysterious Englishman and his icy sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), who is never far from Thomas’s side.
Determined not to let anything stand in the way of their romance, Edith ignores the warnings she receives from close friend Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and follows her heart and her husband to the cold countryside of Cumbria where she finds her new home, Allerdale Hall. The house is decrepit and sinking into the red clay mine upon which is it built. Not put off by the cold and damp of her new residence, Edith is eager to take charge as the new lady of the house but is met with resentment and disdain from Lucille. Unwilling to let her sister-in-law put a dampener on her new marriage, Edith goes about exploring the house and her husband, only to find Lucille making herself present at every turn. Certain that not everything is as it seems, Edith sets out to discover what lies within Allerdale Hall and what it is that bonds Thomas and Lucile together so tightly.
Mia Wasikowska delivers a good performance as Edith, who is intelligent, head strong and can very much hold her own. Jessica Chastain does an excellent job of playing the tortured Lucile, as does Tom Hiddleston as Thomas who like Lucile, is conflicted between the past and the present. The entire cast of Crimson Peak has been well selected, from the over-protective father and the snobbish Mrs. McMichael to the steadfast private detective played by Burn Gorman. Allerdale Hall is very much a central character itself within the film, appearing to be alive with the wind bellowing through the corridors from a gaping hole in the roof almost as if it is breathing and the walls appear to shift and move due to the hundreds of moths fluttering in the shadows. The house even seems to bleed from the red clay seeping through the floorboards and oozing down the walls.
A beautifully shot film with so much attention to detail, it really is a visual feast for the eyes.
It’s evident to see that director Guillermo del Toro has taken influence from gothic romance classics such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca for his latest release but has managed to create something which can be recognised as his own work. Having written the story in 2006 with Matthew Robbins, del Toro waited 8 years to finally go ahead with production as he wanted a bigger budget to ensure his vision would be realised, and it was with Legendary he got that opportunity. The house itself was built to scale on a sound stage which intensifies the eerie atmosphere created in Crimson Peak. The costumes were all created for the film, with some being hand stitched to add to the authenticity, and everything down to the smallest teacup was created from del Toro’s own imagination.
Guillermo del Toro’s attention to detail even went so far as to create two almost identical sofas, but one bigger than the other, to increase Edith’s vulnerability by making her look smaller, he also did this with the teacups and the bed. Combining make up and digital effects in equal parts, del Toro was able to create ghosts for his film that are ghoulish and ghastly with an almost liquid look to them, as they linger and disperse like gas. Unlike Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, which Guillermo del Toro considers are his most personal films, Crimson Peak is about adults instead of children, however there is the idea that childhood and the memories from their childhood are still prominent in the characters and their actions.
Crimson Peak may give off the impression that it is a tale centred on the ghostly hauntings of a grand old mansion, and while there are plenty of ghouls lurking in the shadows, they actually take a back seat within what is primarily a love story. As Edith herself explains about her own novel, the ghosts are a metaphor for the past; and Allerdale is a house with a past desperate to be discovered.
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