CRIMSON PEAK INSIDE OUT
Step into del Toro’s creepy house. Another peach from Pixar.
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15 | 112 minutes
Director Guillermo del Toro
Cast Mia Wasikowska, Tom
Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie
Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman
“It’s not a ghost story,” protests Mia Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing, early on in Crimson Peak. “It’s a story with ghosts in it.” She’s trying to persuade a doubtful publisher to take a punt on her debut novel, imagining herself the next Mary Shelley. But she’s also speaking for director Guillermo del Toro, because although Crimson Peak is a story with ghosts in it, it isn’t exactly a ghost story. It’s a sumptuous gothic romance where ghosts might be real, but they’re also just a metaphor.
The bare bones of the plot are pretty typical for genre fare. At the dawn of the 20th century, wannabe author Edith is swept off her feet by a brooding (and impoverished) nobleman. After marrying the sad-eyed Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), she’s whisked away to his ancestral home in England – but Allerdale Hall, known as Crimson Peak because of the blood-red clay it’s built on, is as full of secrets as it is cobwebs. Stranded there alone with her new husband and his over-protective sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), Edith will need to do a lot of creeping around by candlelight if she wants to put the Hall’s ghosts to rest.
Del Toro’s influences are easy to pick out: there are hat-tips to Rebecca, Hammer Horror, Edgar Allan Poe, and more than a passing nod to Shirley Jackson. There are so many homages packed in, in fact, that the film should probably come with a recommended reading list. But though the reference points are obvious, Crimson Peak is pure del Toro. Like Pacific Rim, it’s a love letter to the past that’s never less than respectful, even as it veers off in new directions. And like his Spanish language horrors, it pits supernatural terrors against human evils, ultimately finding the latter far more disturbing.
As viewers, we’re let in on most of the film’s twists and turns early on; we know, even if Edith doesn’t, that she’s being lured into a trap. We’d know anyway, just because of the kind of story it is, but del Toro wisely makes it clear from the start that Thomas and Lucille are up to something. From the colour-coded costumes to the dated screenwipes to the portentous dialogue, there’s no subtlety to anything here; everything is stuffed to bursting point with significance, so all the audience has to do is sit back and enjoy it.
And there’s so much to enjoy. All three of the main actors attack their roles with gusto, as if breathing new life into gothic archetypes is the greatest possible treat. Wasikowska gives Edith intelligence and ballsiness; she’s a wilful heroine in the Jane Eyre mould, though if she’d married Mr Rochester she would have marched him straight up to the attic and demanded to know what he was playing at. Hiddleston
All three of the main actors attack their roles with gusto
Just wait till TripAdvisor hears about this.
Her halo’s miles better than his.