Monday, April 18, 2016

Crimson Peak » Movie Review

crimson peak poster
“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” — Mary Shelley

Full disclosure — I love this movie.  I went to see Crimson Peak (2o15) in theaters twice and one of those times was on its opening day.  I knew I'd adore the film before I ever even saw it.  I mean, Guillermo del Toro, (Pan's Labyrinth) doing a period, gothic horror? Shut up and take my money!

Crimson Peak tells the story of a young American woman, Edith Cushing.  Despite losing her mother at an early age, she lives a happy life.  She's close with her father, who is a successful businessman, and she has aspirations of becoming a writer.  Very little haunts her... except for that one thing that happened after her mother's funeral. But that's best not spoken of...

Edith is a true romantic, so when a destitute British noble and inventor, Thomas Sharpe, woos her with dashing aplomb, she is done for.  She marries him and they depart for his holding in the peaks of England.

Of course, the course of true love never did run smooth...

So yes, Crimson Peak, is in part, a horror movie.  For some people, that is reason enough to never see a movie, ever.  And I won't lie to you, there were some parts of Crimson Peak that had me wanting to cover my eyes and my ears. But unlike many horror movies, there is a lot more to the storyline besides the violence. And for the most part, the thrills and chills are stylized.  I'm thinking, of course, of the ghosts. Crimson Peak has the best ghosts I've ever seen in a movie — stringy, floaty, and saturated with blues and reds.

crimson peak edith

As for the performances, Mia Wasikowska was serviceable as Edith.  She does a good job, neither approaching her best work (Stoker) nor her worst (Alice in Wonderland).  Ultimately, she couldn't keep up with the magnetism that Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain brought to their roles.  Whenever Chastain appeared on screen, I sat up.  When Hiddleston appeared, I sat forward!  I always thought the actor was sullen and pasty looking and I never got his appeal.  Of course, I hadn't seen him in action before.  Needless to say, I'm convert now.  He's an amazing performer.

The costuming was divine. Hiddleston's suits were eye candy, Chastain's red gown was prismatic, and as for Edith's signature shoulder puffs, I wouldn't be surprised if the seamstresses got a pay bonus with every inch they extended those things.  The soundtrack will haunt my dreams, creepy and romantic at the same time.  In fact, I'm listening to Edith's Theme on repeat as I type this review.

But maybe the thing I loved best about Crimson Peak was its moral ambiguity, represented wonderfully by Thomas Sharpe.  A true Byronic hero, Hiddleston's character rivaled the iconic Heathcliff for being a bad dude who you can't help but forgive and pine for.  My feelings were so complicated and strong in regards to him and his situation, which is absolutely the point of gothic art. For instance, there's this moment,  at the finale of the movie,  that is the most perfect culmination of our emotional journey with Thomas... [spoiler]Edith takes her husband's ghostly face into her hand.[/spoiler] I choked, I cried, and I was sold.

the monk cartoon

Before I end this review, let me explain the above cartoon. It was drawn at the beginning of the 19th century, and lampoons a gothic novel popular at the time, The Monk. "Romantic" and "gothic" novels were seen as trash at the time, stupid stuff that rotted reader's brains. The cartoon mocks the readership of such novels, especially women who were in search for cheap thrills.

Well, I am proud to say that I would totally be part of that book club.  The Monk... Wuthering Heights... The Castle of Otranto...  Crimson Peak... these pieces of art appeal to the part of our humanity that is complicated, vast, and emotional.  The parts that want to be scared, loved, and put on edge.


  1. RT @EllnBaldwin: 5 out of 5 stars to Crimson Peak » Movie Review

  2. RT @EllnBaldwin: 5 out of 5 stars to Crimson Peak » Movie Review

  3. RT @EllnBaldwin: 5 out of 5 stars to Crimson Peak » Movie Review

  4. RT @EllnBaldwin: 5 out of 5 stars to Crimson Peak » Movie Review

  5. RT @EllnBaldwin: 5 out of 5 stars to Crimson Peak » Movie Review

  6. I really want to see this movie! I'm waiting for it to appear on my PPV haha. But your review definitely makes me want to see it even more!

  7. I don't think I've heard of this but it does sound fabulous and I'm glad you liked it so much!

  8. I've always wanted to watch this, but I'm too chicken sh*t. Lol. Maybe when hubby gets back from his trip. I'll get him to watch it with me. High noon. When the sun is at its brightest. Lol.

  9. I'm glad I did my job well! I definitely want to sell this movie to others! :D

  10. It really was so good. Not perfect, but damn close for a person of my tastes.

  11. Oh my god, Joy, you're hilarious! I love the mental picture of you watching this movie at high noon with the sun streaming in through the windows. lol!

  12. Excellent review! This was definitely worth seeing in the theater! It hit all the right notes. What broke me up the most Jim Beaver's fate - Bobby!

    By the way, I'm your partner for this June's Comment Challenge - nice to meet you! :)