You don’t see many gothic romance films reaching global audiences these days, but Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak has hacked at that typecast with a large butcher’s knife and come out with a beautifully horrific movie.
The narrative follows a young writer, Edith Cushing, played by Mia Wasikowska ,in the late 19th century whose life becomes tormented upon her marriage to Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston, and their new life in the haunted Crimson Peak. Thomas and his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe, played by the ever evolving Jessica Chastain, try desperately to hide the creepy goings on of this old mansion. We also see Mia Wasikowska in her element as her classic, timeless look gives her the perfect persona for period movies like that of Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre.
Though the beginning of the story is slow, it is easy to appreciate the film’s aesthetic due to the incredibly stunning costume design by Kate Hawly that puts a gothic twist on the 19th century gowns with lace trimmings and black ribbons.
Crimson Peak was regarded by famous horror novelist Stephen King to be “f***ing terrifying” but it doesn’t have the same intensely frightening effect as his classic horror The Shining. The film seems to incorporate select acts of horrific and gory violence with small hints at the macabre throughout which makes it very reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of the famous King novel. It consistently keeps you in suspense of thrilling events with constant howling and creaking sound effects accompanied by gripping music from Fernando Velazquez.
Crimson Peak has a surprising narrative, with the plot thickening almost like a Sherlock Holmes tale rather than the immediate and sudden shocks that you usually expect from a horror. In this way, it keeps you engrossed and forever wanting more of the mystery to unravel. The movie can be formidable in its unyielding sense of foreboding terror, with blood red clay ever seeping through the walls. However, del Toro did an exceptional job of balancing this atmosphere with some seriously dark humour and classic heros and villains evocative of a typical gothic romance.
Crimson Peak isn’t so much terrifying, but it is terrifically grim, gothic and gorgeous. See it at cinemas now.
Reviewed by Lindsey Catherine