I’m incredibly late writing this review as it’s been about a week since I’ve seen it but I was struggling to find the right words.
To put it plainly – the beauty and detail in this movie are awe inspiring! Director Guillermo del Toro sets the bar high for the many other films to be released in the near future. While Crimson Peak hasn’t received the attention and praise that I believe it deserves, it certainly has the makings of a cult classic for the few that enjoyed the film’s unique genre and exquisite visualization.
The trailers and previews for Crimson Peak made the film out to be a horror movie just in time for Halloween. But if that’s what you’re there to see then you’ll be sorely disappointed. del Toro himself categorizes the film as a Gothic Romance, or a “drama with some ghosts in it.” Which, to break it down a bit, means that if you’re looking for a horror movie, look elsewhere, and if you’re looking for a romance or drama – you may be in the right place but I hope you can embrace the supernatural.
The story takes place in the late 1800’s and revolves around American girl, Edith (Mia Wasikowska). After marrying the charming Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), the couple travel to his remote gothic mansion in the English hills to live there with his sister Lucille. Edith, who has the ability to communicate with spirits, soon discovers that the old mansion has some secrets of its own!
Guillermo del Toro has the capacity to capture the hearts and minds of his audience. His imagination seems endless and limitless as he continues to create films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim; Crimson Peak is no exception.
Wrapped in vivid colour and stunning detail, you could get lost in the mansion that sits atop Crimson Peak. Of course, however, even a beautiful film would fall flat without it’s actors. Mia Wasikowska was flexible and adapted well to the experiences of young Edith. Like a child wandering through the unknown, she perfectly portrays not only the innocent and frightened damsel but carries the character through to her courageous confrontation. Tom Hiddleston continues to expand his range of talent as he brings Sir Thomas Sharpe to life. Sir Sharpe charms and seduces the audience just as he does with Edith but portrays just enough darkness to leave us wondering what he’s hiding. Last but certainly not least is Jessica Chastain. For Jessica’s bright and bubbly personality, the character of Lucille Sharpe was completely the opposite; dark, mysterious, and writhing with a violence that she keeps just under the surface.
While he’s not necessarily a lead character, it is worthy of mentioning that del Toro has once again cast Charlie Hunnam in a supportive male role. His character, Alan McMichael, is an American friend and admirer of Edith; he’s seen throughout the movie providing guidance for the leading lady but never steals her spotlight and always respects her opinions.
My creative background and love of photography makes me a sucker for cinematography! The lighting, colours, and fantastic detail all came together to create a spectacular experience. Wide shots made room to show off the gorgeous set design and locations (much of which was filmed in Hamilton, Ontario) contrasted with intimately tight shots that displayed each characters emotion and perspective. The use of light and colour throughout the film not only set the mood but hinted at the stories of each location. The family and party scenes that take place in America are lit in a bright warmth while the scenes that play out in the Sharpe mansion are shadowed and coloured in deep cool hues with a contrast of brilliant red.
I highly recommend this movie, but be prepared for something new. This style of film and it’s genre aren’t common in our theatres. It’s not a horror film and it’s more than a drama. Crimson Peak is the definition of Gothic Romance.
Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you thought!
Until next time!