Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is a 2015 gothic romance horror drama directed by Guillermo Del Toro. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain in the lead roles with Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver as support.

The film is set in 19th century USA and England and according to Del Toro was intended as a homage to the classic supernatural horror movies like The Haunting and The Innocents. The plot revolves around Edith Cushing, an American heiress who marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) an English baronet. The couple return to the Sharpe mansion Allerdale Hall to live with Sharpe’s sister Lucille (Chastain).

Now, early on in Crimson Peak, it is established that Edith can see ghosts – in a flashback her mother’s spectre warns her about ‘Crimson Peak’. Upon her arrival at Allerdale Hall, Edith begins to see more ghosts – all women – who seem to be reaching out to her for help. She never tells anybody about these sightings.

However, at a critical juncture in the story, Edith’s father Carter (Beaver) is brutally murdered, which paves the way for Sir Thomas to wed Edith – Carter had previously objected to the marriage. Before and after this incident, Edith had seen the ghost of her mother but strangely, does not get any warning from her father about the dark truth behind Sharpe siblings. That would have been handy at the time!

The dark truth, of course, is that Sir Thomas and Lucille – apart from being incestuous lovers – are also serial killers with the siblings despatching their elderly mother and three former brides at Allerdale Hall. Convenient that law enforcement chose to ignore the succession of women that had disappeared at Allerdale Hall! No inquiries from the deceaseds’ family members either?!?! Preposterous!

Edith – the protagonist – is a silly character as well. She routinely sees ghosts but never questions her mental health and it is obvious that Lucille is up to no good but she chooses to let Lucille continue to poison her. Edith is up to that point of realisation, portrayed as weak and helpless, but in the final act, Edith somehow musters the strength to ward off the murderous intent of Lucille? Illogical!

And oh what about Hunnam’s Dr. Alan McMichael? That character serves no other purpose except to provide exposition concerning the Sharpe siblings. At the end, he comes to Edith’s ‘rescue’ but in truth does not really do anything! Really poor storytelling.

Yes, the ghosts. All rather dumb looking and not frightening at all. The spectres have little impact on the story itself except to suggest that something rotten is going on in Allerdale Hall. But how come only Edith gets to see them? And why does Lucille see Sir Thomas’ ghost at the climax? She never saw the ghosts of the other women she killed before. Annoying inconsistency!

I can barely comprehend that Crimson Peak was co-written and directed by Del Toro! It is perhaps his worst movie ever. Good thing he came to his senses and recovered his abilities in time to make The Shape of Water next!

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