From the moment I saw the trailer, I could tell that this would be my kind of movie. After all, it was a period piece, had supernatural happenings, and a gothic tone to it. After finally watching it, I can say that it did not disappoint.
The story consists of writer-wannabe Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) being romanced by the dark, mysterious figure of Tom Hiddleston’s character (Sir Thomas Sharpe), who happens to have an equally dark and mysterious sister, Lucille. After marrying Thomas, Edith moves into the siblings’ decrepit mansion, Allerdale Hall, where ghostly apparitions haunt Edith. Who are these ghosts and what are they trying to warn Edith of?
Without giving too much away, I can say that this movie seemed strikingly similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. In this story, too, there is a mysterious brother and sister who inhabit a structurally unsafe grand home. And with both the movie and Poe’s short story, we have an outsider who enters the siblings’ domain and is witness to the bizarre. We also have a tangible link between the siblings’ faltering home and their own cracked relationship for both storylines.
Ghosts, while they add a bit of a spooky factor to the movie, are there for more than just bumps in the night. Edith can see ghosts, and starting with the spirit of her mother, they come to give her warnings. To Edith, however, ghosts represent something more than just agents of caution. As she explains to others about the presence of a ghost in her writing:
The ghost is a metaphor for the past!
The past certainly comes into play with the mysterious background of Thomas and Lucille. And the climax of the movie hinges on the question of whether or not the past will repeat itself once more.
The cinematography was beautiful and this movie was very much visually appealing. The color red is present throughout the movie- the red gown Lucille is wearing when we first meet her, the various instances of blood, and the clay which Allerdale Hall sits on top of. The movie is called Crimson Peak after all. Another symbolic image is that of the butterflies and moths, the insects representing Edith and Lucille respectively.
Through many visual shots, we are also given the theme of watching. Edith tells Thomas “I don’t want to close my eyes.” Indeed, much of the movie is about opening Edith’s eyes to the truth. We also have ghosts watching Edith, Lucille and some creepy dolls watching Edith and Thomas, Edith watching Lucille and Thomas, and a portrait of the siblings’ mother watching over everything. As the movie makes clear, there are things that should be seen and not seen. The audience, too, is partaking in this act of observing and so we also become implicit in the sinister and depraved things we witness.
If you’re into ghostly, gothic, Poe-esque period pieces with tons of puff-shouldered gowns, then Crimson Peak is a movie that will unnerve you in the most satisfying way.