Crimson Peak, the new film from director Guillermo del Toro, covers multiple genres. It’s a period piece romance with gorgeous costumes. It’s also a suspenseful horror film with an assortment of creepy ghosts and cringe-worthy gore.
And what an amazing setting! Most of the movie’s action takes place in a huge mansion in rural England. Allerdale Hall is old and damaged. Snow falls into the house through the huge hole in the roof. Secrets and ghosts abound in this enormous home.
Central character Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is an aspiring writer who is haunted by ghosts, living in Buffalo a century ago. A mysterious British stranger, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), calls on Edith’s businessman father (Jim Beaver) to obtain financing for his clay-mining machine. Thomas’s travelling partner is his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).
Edith’s dad refuses to invest in the Thomas’s device. Thomas waltzes with Edith at a society event and Edith begins to fall for him. Dad, smelling a rat, pays Thomas and his sister to leave town. This would clear the way for Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) to pursue longtime acquaintance Edith.
As the Sharpe siblings prepare to leave Buffalo, Edith’s dad is killed in a grisly murder. Edith halts the Sharpe’s exodus and soon marries Tom and joins him and sis at Allerdale Hall. That’s when the weird stuff really gets going.
Who are the ghosts? What is the history of Allerdale Hall? Why can’t Edith have a house key? What’s in that tea being served to Edith? What’s the real story behind Thomas and Lucille? What’s going on in the basement? What’s in those tubes in the closet? Who or what is Enola? What’s the cause of those red spots in the snow outside?
Mia Wasikowska as the smitten but confused bride Edith plays it both ways. The ghosts that haunt her life cause her to proceed cautiously but the strange things she sees and hears in the house stimulate her curiosity. She has to investigate.
Hiddleston with his face that’s shaped like a caricature and Wasikowska with her pale countenance are perfectly cast. As Lucille, Chastain’s character is a wild card, one who is not to be trusted.
As the mystery unfolds and secrets are revealed, Crimson Peak turns out to be a movie that cannot be described simply. Guillermo del Toro combines the genres to bring a film full of memorable visuals, memorable characters and general creepiness. Perfect for the Halloween season!