“Crimson Peak”: A haunting fairytale stuns its viewers

Guillermo Del Toro’s new gothic tale encapsulates a little bit of every standard horror genre, but in a more artistic, curious way. You will hear about ghosts, you will witness murders, you will see gore, but most significantly, you will be pulled into a fantasy world that revolves around love.

Taking place in the late 19th century in both New York City and the northwest English countryside, “Crimson Peak” successfully disguises itself as it touches its toes into feminism.

The main character, strong-willed Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), starts off in the film as a young female who lives a prosperous and sheltered life. As time ticks on, her eyes keep opening to more and more unexplainable disturbing occurrences that not only grow her character, but transforms her into a female warrior.

“Ghosts are real, that much I know.” – Edith Cushing

Not only is Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers) beyond a pleasant vision to admire on screen, but his character alone will make you swoon over him.

Sir Thomas Sharpe, a British man who is bewitchingly charming, and who you would never think twice about trusting, arrives suddenly in New York City with his otherworldly looking sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). Thomas is seeking funding from Edith’s father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), who is a wealthy man feeding off of the industrial uproar in America, for an invention that Thomas created back in England. Carter wants nothing to do with Sir Thomas and his sister, and dismisses him as he senses something dishonorable within their family.

Thomas starts making an impression on the naive Edith, charming and seducing her to no end. Then quite abruptly, things take a turn for the worst, and Edith’s life is turned upside down. The handsome Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam – Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy), who has always been a close family friend to Edith and her father, tries to get close to her to help her through the difficult times – but with Thomas nearby, Edith connects to him like a magnet and lets him keep her in his arms.

As Thomas and Edith’s relationship begins to flourish, Lucille becomes enraged with mood swings and acts cold and distant towards Edith. Viewers can’t help but wonder about this sudden change in attitude.

Photo courtesy of Universal.
Photo courtesy of Universal.

Edith ends up joining Thomas and Lucille in Cumbria, England, at their rotting mansion that has been in their family for centuries. The mansion is on a hill of red clay, which is slowly consuming the estate. The mansion is filled with not only mysteries and secrets, but haunting, dark creatures that come out and strike terror in Edith whenever she is alone. As she brings these issues up to Thomas and Lucille, Thomas appears to have sympathy, but Lucille tries to hush her up with tea as quickly as she can.

“Beware of Crimson Peak!” is a warning that Edith’s mother, who passed away years before, comes back more than once in spirit-form to relay to her daughter. Edith has no knowledge of what that entails, until one instance where Thomas is looking out at his land and mutters “Crimson Peak.” Edith immediately looks up and asks him what that is, and he continues on to describe how in the winter when the snow covers the ground, the red clay seeps through to the surface, and holds a bright crimson, blood-red color.

Guillermo Del Toro does an unsurprisingly, incredible job at creating the world in which this story takes place. The attention to detail and accuracy on the 19th century period costumes is more than flawless. From soft, light textures for Edith, to dark, deep, rich velvets for Lucille and masculine, dark tones for Thomas–it really sets the tone for what each character is capable of.

The set design is on a whole other level, leaving you stunned in every single shot with the extravagant, crisp backgrounds and the steel-blue lighting, helping you see the shadows peeking out of every corner.

Even if the acting would have been terrible or if someone did not enjoy the plot of the story, they would at least enjoy the incredible features and technical details comprised in the visuals of the film.

Some may be disappointed to hear that “Crimson Peak” is not an over-the-top frightening, gory, traditional horror fest, but if they open their minds to the possibilities of what Guillermo Del Toro has created, they will be left stunned.

Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆

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Jessie Wade

Jessie was the Editor-in-Chief of the University Chronicle during the 2017-2018 academic year. She graduated in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Geography, and a minor in British Studies. Jessie's social media channels are a mix of film and video game goodness, along with gender equality and inspiration vibes. Follow her on twitter @jessieannwade to connect.

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