“Love makes monsters of us all.”
Crimson Peak is one of those rare films that left me haunted.
Not because of the ghosts that are rather grisly, or the large amounts of blood that splatter the actors in their fine Victorian clothing. Either of those are bound to keep you up a little bit through the night.
What left me haunted was the violence of emotions. Witnessing a tragedy unfold supported by the exquisite use of symbolism and metaphor was a true delight to witness. This film was able to say everything without saying anything at all.
Crimson Peak is a gothic romance telling the story of a young, American writer, Edith (Mia Wasikowska.), who falls in love with the mysterious, and sadly destitute, Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Visiting America with his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), Thomas Sharp hopes to find funding for his machine that will mine the red clay of his deteriorating estate in order to create an income.
He whisks Edith away back to his crumbling mansion, Allerdale Hall, where she encounters more than she bargained for. A set of ghosts wants her to solve a mystery she doesn’t want to see.
The film’s lush visuals transport you into another world and time, seducing you so effectively you don’t even notice the slow decent into hell until you arrive.
The beginning of the film utilizes rich and vibrant colors with soft candlelit evenings. However, once Thomas Sharp arrives dressed in his fine black suits, an aura of darkness begins to decay the happiness surrounding Edith.
After Edith and Thomas are married the couple goes back to England and we receive our first glimpse of Allerdale Hall. The golden candlelights grow dim and cold. In an instant we are submerged into Thomas’ and Lucille’s world of gloom and deterioration. One of the aspects of the film I appreciated most was the representation of ghosts. Not only is Allerdale Hall sinking into the red clay, but the specters haunting its halls turn the environment from cold to sinister.
We are witnessing the insides of the characters revealing themselves to us.
Yet, whereas in most films the ghosts are the monsters, Director Guillermo Del Toro chose to twist the concept showing that humans are the true monsters.
Though the film is overwhelmed by darkness, love is the one source of light that is allowed to flicker. The individual pasts of each character threaten them in some aspect, and it is only with love that they can choose to move forward.
One scene in particular in the middle of the film we see the warm glow of the candlelight’s return for a final time. Edith and Thomas find themselves unable to return to Allerdale Hall for the night due to a snowstorm. You can see Thomas fighting against the pull of the past, Edith coaxing him to think only of the future.
“You won’t find me there,” she tells him.
This scene was particularly moving, and Tom Hiddleston imparted beautifully the torment of wanting to let go of inner demons. However, upon returning to Allerdale Hall, leaving the warmth and light behind them, the spiral down hill accelerates into a violent madness.
The agony is palpable as choices must be made.
The entire film is a slow slope downhill, gradually growing darker and more filled with violence with each passing moment. It is shocking and terrifying, and brings about the true horror that one feels when discovering a secret you wished never to admit.
Truly a wonderful directorial choice on Del Toro’s part.
Crimson Peak is a movie that will be remembered. Whether it be for the passionate and moving acting, or stunning visuals of a true gothic romance. But what will always stay with me is the darker power of love, and that, yes, love can indeed make monsters of us all.
By Genevieve Raas