The following segment is taken, with permission, from Rachael Acks’ deliciously involved ‘Crimson Peak’ review and analysis. One we may or may not still be rolling around in.
Crimson Peak is a gothic romance in which innocent and violently orphaned budding writer Edith is romanced by Baronet Thomas Sharpe, overseen by his unblinking and intense sister Lucille. It’s obvious from the beginning that the Sharpe siblings are up to no good, the real question is how deep the corruption goes. When Thomas brings Edith home to Allerdale Hall, a house that’s a near-living embodiment of director Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetic and rotting austerely from the inside out, she must unravel the mysteries of Thomas’s recent past in order to survive her own future. She’s helped, for certain values of help, along in this endeavor by the numerous female ghosts that haunt Allerdale, but the true horror is not found with the dead, but the living.
The cast–Mia Wasikowska as Edith, Jessica Chastain as Lucille, Tom Hiddleston as Thomas–is what makes the movie. Edith acts as an excellent foil for Lucille and Thomas and a catalyst for internal struggle and development. The movie’s aesthetic has the richness we’ve come to expect from del Toro, an exemplar of the literary gothic that I personally love to witness but cannot stand reading, since I find the dark depths and layering visually appealing but impenetrable and normally overwritten in prose. With a less compelling cast there could have been a style over substance problem; the story of the movie and its purported mysteries aren’t really that twisty or terribly mysterious. The strength is in the characters and their relationships, and between the acting and visual delivery, del Toro has put together something that adds new depths to old tropes.
(And let’s face it, you could cast Tom Hiddleston as a Great Old One in a Lovecraft movie and I’d come out of it saying, “Well, but what about the inner life of Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young?” Damn the man and his puppy dog eyes. He made me like Coriolanus, for fuck’s sake.)
And this is the part where we get into the SPOILERS. Do not continue if you wish to remain unspoiled. I’m going to break this up into loose, non-sequential sections.
TW for abuse, violence, and…to read the rest of the review, hop on over to Rachael’s blog! Do it. Do the thing!
Rachael Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. In addition to her steampunk novella series, she’s had short stories in Strange Horizons, Waylines, Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra, and more. She’s an active member of SFWA, the Northern Colorado Writer’s Workshop, and Codex.