The winter snow falling and fresh blood caressing her trembling fingers, the cold wind nipping at her hair, a young girl looks back on her mother’s funeral.
“Ghosts are real…this much I know,” said Edith Crushing (Mia Wasikowska). Never had it been more evident to her as it was that night, when her mother’s ghastly spirit entered her chambers, warning her of the path she would inevitably fall prey to.
“Beware my child, steer clear of Crimson Peak.”
The recently released gothic tale begins in the late 19th century in Buffalo, New York, where young Edith becomes infatuated with her father’s client, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After a bold turn of events, Edith marries Thomas and relocates with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) to their phantasmal manor in England, named Allerdale Hall. Needless to say this manor is an old wreck…and more than its fair share of creepy.
Allerdale Hall, better known as Crimson Peak, was built over a large red clay mine. The Sharpe family home got its eerie name due to the wet clay that seeps up through the soil and dyes the snow bright red across the estate. No one in their right minds would willingly spend one day at this place, let alone a lifetime. Edith gets tormented by more troubled spirits as her stay lengthens and with every passing hour the mystery of the Sharpe family starts to unravel as a sadistic dark secret boils to the surface.
The design of the film’s wardrobes, ghosts and set design were nothing short of sublime. However, while the detail, cinematography, costume design and sets were superb, the character development and storyline all but crashed and burned. Chemistry between the key characters was unconvincing and borderline non-existent.
While the plotline seems void of purpose, Guillermo del Toro sought more to encompass audiences with Crimson Peak’s enticing and bone-chilling visual effects, of which he delivered in impeccable style. Del Toro once again displayed his talent for bringing screenplays to life in an artistically captivating manner that leaves the audience baffled.
While promoted as a horror film, the gothic “romance” of Crimson Peak had a blatant lack of suspense, opting more to have impressive supernatural imagery rather than being scary. While logic is not precisely essential to the endgame of the plot, more attention to detail would go a long way to turn this film from aesthetically intriguing — to a well-rounded work of art.
Brady Wesp is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.