The Gothic Romance of Crimson Peak

The Gothic Romance of Crimson Peak

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Crimson Peak, a period piece set in a massive, crumbling, haunted house starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam, opened on Friday, October 16. While some may envision it as simply a “haunted house horror flick,” director Guillermo del Toro refuses to call it that. Instead, he says, this is a “gothic romance.”

At Comic-Con San Diego during the Legendary Pictures’ panel earlier this year, Guillermo explained that he wanted to create a really classical lush lavish gothic romance, in the vein of Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

“It hasn’t been done in a while, there are always female-centric movies that have very strong protagonists… Many times in some of these movies the girl ends up a damsel in distress. I wanted to create a tale that’s a classical straight gothic romance but certain twists are a little more gender liberated, a little more about being yourself. I’m conscious about this with two daughters, we live in a world with a secret gender war. As storytellers it’s our duty to take these great genres and retell them.”

While it may not be the film you’d expect based on the rather frightening trailers, Crimson Peak has been called “gorgeous.”

Del Toro paints the dark tale in “vivid colors, from the luscious costumes that bedeck Wasikowska in radiant yellows and Chastain in ominous blood red, to the lighting that splashes orange and teal across the home’s moldering walls,” writes Kristy Puchko on SpinOff.

And, it may even be better than you imagined.

The film follows an aspiring writer, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), at the turn of the century. Unlike her peers, who are more interested in playing society games, she’d rather tell ghost stories, though she downplays her supernatural ability: she can see ghosts.

After being charmed by a dashing, yet mysterious baronet, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), Edith decides both romance and the paranormal have a place in her life.

They head off to England to live at the Sharpe’s estate, called “Crimson Peak” by the locals due to the blood-red clay deposits that sit just beneath the house. Of course, once there, everything begins to fall apart. Edith begins seeing spooky apparitions, discovers plenty of skeletons in the rotting closets, and the behavior of the strange siblings turns increasingly erratic.

After realizing she’s in true danger, Edith tries to escape both the clutches of her new family – and the evil spirits that live in their walls.

Guillermo’s visual storytelling is impressively striking, with the house itself a character, speaking with splatters of blood-red mud and howls of cruel, bitter winds that throw snow about the interior. While the surface appeal is the ghosts and frights, the story is about the heightened emotional power of love as well as the intense damage it can inflict.

In other words, instead of a horror story, you can expect a del Toro gothic romance in “high bloody style.”