Main cast: Mia Wasikowska (Edith Cushing), Jessica Chastain (Lady Lucille Sharpe), Tom Hiddleston (Sir Thomas Sharpe), Charlie Hunnam (Dr Alan McMichael), and Jim Beaver (Carter Cushing)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Tom Hiddleston plays a gentleman who is supposed to be handsome in Crimson Peak, but… I’m not sure. I’m not denying Mr Hiddleston’s skills as a thespian, oh no, but when I picture a late 19th century gentleman sending women into a swoon, I don’t see him as that kind of guy. Oh well, but I suppose we can stop being superficial for a moment, because this movie is pretty watchable for a Gothic horror thing.
Edith Cushing’s mother died when she was only a child, but she remembered what seemed like her mother’s ghost visiting her shortly after, warning her to stay away from a place called Crimson Peak. We cut to years later, when she is an adult hoping to carve a career for herself as a modern writer in New York. When Sir Thomas Sharpe, an English baronet, and his sister Lucille visit the place, most women swoon, but Edith is unimpressed. She is, after all, a modern lady who believes in meritocracy over hereditary privileges, and besides, she’s too busy being irked by the fact that her editor wants her to write romances just because she’s a woman.
When she meets Thomas, however, and he claims to love her writing, that’s when she falls in love with him, much to the dismay of her friend Dr Alan McMichael. Edith and Thomas marry, go back to his home Allerdale Hall, which is old and scary, and she soon discover that Lucille is even scarier than the house. Wait, maybe those dresses with big puffy shoulders that they forced Mia Wasikowska to wear are the scariest things here. Anyway, there are ghosts, murders, loud strange sounds in the dark, long winding corridors… the usual. What are the secrets of this place? Is Edith’s life in danger? Well, wait until she learns that Allerdale Hall is also known as Crimson Peak…
This is a beautiful film – every scene is gorgeous on the eyes, but at the same time, the CGI ghosts are really fake-looking, so the two together can create a rather clashing kind of dissonance. Also, it’s remarkable how two main actresses can chase one another down the stairs and such while wearing all these long trailing skirts that look like they weigh a ton. Maybe all that is done using CGI too?
The plot is predictable, but the main cast does a great job in each of his or her role. I also like that Edith isn’t some passive Gothic romance heroine – she puts up a pretty good fight when she figures out what is happening to her in Crimson Peak.
Therefore, Crimson Peak is a movie of contradictions. Lovely cinematography and scenery, but awfully artificial CGIs. Compelling cast, predictable plot. Certain moments of cool, violent gore, that are at same time neutered by how fake the whole CGI thing looks. It’s certainly watchable, but I guess it is better treated like a pretty painting. Look at it, admire it, take whatever pleasure you can, and then walk away without giving it much further thought.