Horror films in the 21st century have become stale with so many modern takes on old characters, nightmares fueled by technology and enough exorcisms to bore the Pope. However, Crimson Peak is refreshing bit of modern film macabre in a gothic setting perfect for a fresh ghost story.
The film jumps right into giving us the creeps, showing young Edith in bed as a ghoulish specter of her recently dead mother curls up next to her to warn her young daughter, “Beware of Crimson Peak.” The image is a wonderful piece of nightmare fuel looking both festering and other-worldly with no doors or walls able to hold it back. It’s not the last time the image will be used and it gets better each time.
Years later, Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is a young aspiring novelist living with her father. When Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) comes into town, the two strike up a friendship that dares to bloom to romance. When Edith’s father is suddenly murdered, she marries Thomas and moves in with him and his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), at their family’s dilapidated mansion. Only after a few days there, and some ghostly encounters, does Thomas slip that his mansion is nicknamed Crimson Peak. Makes sense with the ominous blood red dirt it was built on. And we quickly see why Edith was warned to beware Crimson Peak.
I cannot bear to discuss the plot in too much detail for fear of giving away any major spoilers. But believe me, this film is engrossing and has some great surprises up until the end.
The visual aspects of the film are even better than the wonderfully woven plot. So many scenes have perfectly eerie color pallet mixing red and green in unnatural ways. It makes the film look witchy and foreboding. And Thomas’ mansion itself is a perfectly macabre setting. The roof of this huge house is practically gone, the main hole looks down into the huge entryway. When it snows, there’s a pile of snow in the middle of the house, right at the bottom of the stairs. The floor there is rotting, oozing the blood red mud under the floorboards. The rest of the mansion is just as creepy, impractical and fantastic.
Crimson Peak is a fantastic horror film that covers many aspects of the genre. It starts out as a spooky ghost story, turns into a psychological thriller, throws in some bumps in the night and tops it off with some surprisingly compelling slasher moments. Director Guillermo del Toro does not disappoint and paints a vivid world for this fantastic story. It’s a treat that can be enjoyed all year, but it’s ghostly qualities make it perfect for the Halloween season.
“Ghosts are real, that much I know. I’ve seen them all my life…”