I am a British traveller with a love for writing, photography, and fun! Hoping to share some of my experiences with the world. :)
Published April 26th 2016
Why you need Crimson Peak in your life
Known for creating the beautiful yet haunting world of "Pan's Labyrinth," Guillermo del Toro strikes again with a wonderfully gothic tale of "Crimson Peak."
A fairly simple plot includes odd ball Edith Cushing played by Mia Wasikowska, (Alice in Wonderland) as a Beauty and the Beast-esque Belle. Someone who doesn't quite fit in and would rather spend time with her books than people. Since seeing the ghost of her mother as a child she develops a fascination with them which is shown through the books she writes. Due to this, she is constantly being turned down by publishers who think women should be writing romances and not horrors.
Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) plays the handsome and mysterious love interest Sir Thomas Sharpe, while Jessica Chastain plays his creepy and jealous sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Lawless.) Leaving behind everything and everyone she knows, including childhood friend turned attractive doctor Alan McMichael, (Charlie Hunnam) ,Edith choses to marry Sir Thomas and live in his house in England and this is where the fun begins.
Great performances by Hiddleston, Chastain, Wasikowska and Hunnam are worth mentioning but they are out shone by the production design on this film. Del Toro along with production designer Tom Sanders (Saving Private Ryan, Dracula) and costume designer Kate Hawley (The Hobbit, Pacific Rim) create the perfect haunted mansion and atmosphere for this gothic horror story.
The gothic revival style house was designed based off Edward Hopper's "The House by the Railroad," as Del Toro liked the loneliness of it. (The painting was also Alfred Hitchcock's inspiration for the Bates house in "Psycho.") In the film the house is slowly sinking into the clay in which it stands on, giving the audience a sense of being stuck as well as, quite literally, that sinking feeling. Every inch of you wants Edith to turn back but open entering the home, the open hallway bares all and takes you in with open arms only to feel more trapped with long, narrow, winding hallways as you enter the belly of the house. In winter months the clay filters in to the snow surrounding the home turning it a blood red colour, which is why the land is often referred to as "Crimson Peak." The crimson theme is consistent throughout the film.
Sanders and his team built entire house from the ground up and everything inside was constructed specifically for the film. From the pattern heavy décor layered throughout to the oozing red clay that seeps through the house, every little detail was carefully designed and placed. According to Sanders everything was to add to the home's history and the feeling of it being a living and breathing character. He explains the importance of the home and how Hawley was able to design costumes that complimented the production design rather than contrasted against it so the audience wouldn't be distracted from the other.
A majority of the effects were practical making it feel like a late 1970s classic horror film and the ghost themselves looked like glamorous versions of something you might see at the end of an "Indiana Jones" movie.
The film in its entirety is visually stunning and although it may not have the plot of other Del Toro masterpieces like "Pan's Labyrinth" or be as terrifying as "The Devil's Backbone," it doesn't need to be. It is a film that you can watch over and over and notice something new with every viewing. Each individual will take away something different from the plot, whether that be the ugliness of jealousy, the moral of acceptance and letting go, or the possibility that this was just Edith's story book the whole time and she probably could have left the romance out of her ghost story even though she was told otherwise. Either way, you are taken on a journey of love, jealousy and betrayal through a charmingly eerie house which will stay on your mind a long time after leaving the cinema.