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article imageReview: ‘Crimson Peak’ is the epitome of a gothic horror romance Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 17, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Crimson Peak’ is Guillermo del Toro’s stunning gothic horror romance that uses a deadly mystery to draw audiences into the Victorian ghost story.
There’s a problem in the horror industry that’s existed for decades and shows no evidence of being solved in the near future: the movies are frequently marketed incorrectly. There’s an assumption that unless a film is revealed to be frightening in the trailers, people won’t go to the theatre to watch it. However misrepresenting pictures or disclosing all the greatest scares during its promotion causes audiences to feel cheated and can affect profits once word gets around that it’s not what was promised. As much as one hopes this will not be the case, this may be the fate of Crimson Peak, which is unlikely to fulfill the false hopes of a scary film-going experience.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is the well-educated daughter of a successful businessman (Jim Beaver). She enjoys writing ghost stories, but her compositions are dismissed because of her gender. In spite of Dr. Alan McMichael’s (Charlie Hunnam) subtle attempts to woo her, she finds herself unexpectedly taken by Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a visiting Englishman seeking investors for his mining machine. An accident and his persistence eventually see the pair married and living in Thomas’ dilapidated estate in London with his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). But the house has a sordid history and its restless spirits threaten Edith’s sanity… though losing her mind might be the lesser of her worries.
After wowing audiences with the bigger-than-life action in Pacific Rim, director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro returns to his darker roots with this gothic horror romance. It has all the elements required by this type of story, from tortured souls to a doomed love story to shady secrets clamouring for the light. The Victorian setting is striking down to the last detail and the costumes are perfectly tailored to the cast and the story. In addition, the ornate locations from across Ontario are the ideal backdrop for this throwback ghost story with their preserved and detailed architecture that only adds to the overall magnificent aesthetic. The apparitions are a ghastly mix of modern shock and classic fright, emerging from the fractured foundation and stuttering down the halls or floating to the rafters.
Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston star in Guillermo del Toro s  Crimson Peak
Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston star in Guillermo del Toro's 'Crimson Peak'
Universal Pictures
The narrative is part ghost story part romance part mystery. The first two aspects are obvious, but the latter is the element that drives the story. As clues about certain deceptions are uncovered, the degree of the betrayal befalling Edith increases. While she has few allies, it becomes less clear who is actually on her side and who is really a threat. Privy to the knowledge allowed by the viewer’s omniscient perspective, they are likely to put together the pieces before the protagonist but that doesn’t detract from the appeal of watching it play out to the end.
Chastain is a surprisingly good villain, exuding wickedness from the moment she appears on screen. Even her eyes suggest an unnerving level of insanity. She and Hiddleston have a tangible chemistry as the brother and sister have relied on each other for so many years. He has the ability to be both an amiable gentleman and a cold, callous snake convincingly and in short-order. Hunnam’s role is a far cry from his tough biker persona in Sons of Anarchy. Clean-shaven and donning a suit on all occasions, he still radiates the quality of a reluctant hero and charming suitor. Wasikowska is the key to the story. She exhibits a combination of curiosity and caution throughout the narrative, demonstrating more will than many may have thought Edith was capable. Fortunately her character is not just another bumbling victim making mistakes at every turn, allowing Wasikowska to be a self-assured woman rather than a frightened girl resigned to her fate.
The slow pace of the picture will undoubtedly be unpopular amongst some theatregoers, but no one can deny the absolutely stunning imagery present throughout it.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston
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