In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers.
“Ghost are real. I’ve seen them. They stay tethered to a piece of property – because of love or revenge.”
I’ve wanted to watch Crimson Peak ever since I found out that it was Del Toro’s next film (after Pacific Rim – which is also an awesome movie) and was about a haunted house. The more I saw and read about it in the months that passed, the more I yearned to watch it. And it was definitely worth the wait, because when I finally saw it, Crimson Peak far exceeded my expectations.
Crimson Peak is a Gothic horror romance and blurs the lines between the two. There is violence and gore, but also gorgeous Gothic settings. There are ghosts and scares, but also romance and love. Love is presented as a kind of horror too; it is as consuming as fear and perhaps more deadly.
It is not a horror movie in that it uses jump scare tactics and gruesome demons to freak you out and keep you up all night. Rather it is a horror movie in that there are murders and ghosts, and that you leave the theater horrified and unsettled.
As I expected from Del Toro, his attention to detail is immaculate. Crimson Peak is a visual feast. Allerdale Hall and even Edith’s childhood house are are decadent Gothic works of architecture. From decorative features in the mansion to the characters’ clothing, each element was stunning and lent to the exquisitely immersive atmosphere. There are also some important motifs, such as the colour red, that add a metaphorical layer to the story. Horror elements aside, I was completely taken over by the world of Crimson Peak and never wanted to leave. Dark wood, winding staircases, lace curtains, candles, turrets… I was in love. Can I live on the set please?
Plot wise Crimson Peak is carefully paced, slow enough to immerse you in the world, but constantly tense due to the mystery and ever present horrific undertone. There were some twists along the way too and it is only at the end that the whole story is revealed.
Beyond my love for the visuals and the atmosphere, there are many others reasons why I love this movie. First is that it explored the horrors and atrocities that humans are capable of committing. Perhaps, as the movie suggests, people are more frightening and horrific than ghosts. Ghosts are simply a reflection of the past, while it is humans who are capable of committing heinous crimes.
The main character, Edith is an awesome protagonist. She is a strong, smart, though naive girl, who believes in ghosts and fantasy, and who would much rather stay home and read than attend parties. I connected with her easily and loved her as a character. There are further subversions of the typical male/female tropes. It is Thomas who seductively lures Edith into danger, and it is Edith who is in control of their relationship. She is insanely brave and insatiably curious and makes it her goal to uncover the house’s secrets. Ultimately it is up to her to save herself from Crimson Peak.
So basically, I really loved this movie and can’t wait to watch it again. Highly recommended.
“A house as old as this one becomes, in time, a living thing. It starts holding onto things… keeping them alive when they shouldn’t be. Some of them are good; some of them bad… Some should never be spoken about again.”