I had such hopes for Crimson Peak (2015), and yet…what a disappointment.
I’ve stated before my love for Guillermo del Toro’s storytelling and penchant for the macabre, so when I saw the preview for his latest venture, about a young woman who comes to stay in a haunted house with its suspicious inhabitants, I expected a solid story punctuated by the ghastly images that served to drive the story forward. With Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam at the helm, how could this be bad?
The problem lies with the plot, which is utterly simple. Wasikowska’s Edith is smitten by Hiddleston’s Thomas Sharpe, a union that is forbidden by her father, but made after his untimely and violent death. (Wow, I wonder who could have been responsible for that?) Edith goes to live with her new husband and his sister Lucille (Chastain) in their dilapidated family home atop a red clay mine that stains the snow a brutal blood color, hence the name “Crimson Peak.” It’s not long before Edith starts to see ghosts of violently murdered women throughout the house and begins to suspect something is not right with this brother/sister duo.
Of course, she is right, and SPOILER ALERT, if that matters to you, Thomas and Lucille have long been engaged in an incestuous relationship and have been luring young girls into marriage and killing them for their inheritances. (This is why we don’t trust mysterious and dashing men who isolate us from our families, okay? I thought we’d been over this before.) After a ridiculous fight scene that Edith endures while, presumably, on a broken ankle (seriously, you cannot run around like that while injured), she manages to do in Lucille and live to fight another day. But only with the help of her dead husband’s ghost because, you see, he really did love her and wasn’t all bad. Or so we’re to believe.
I’m not sure if this ending is supposed to be feminist in nature, with Edith discovering the truth about her husband and fighting her save her life, but it rings false. Edith is nothing more than a girl who is too willing to fall prey to the promise of love, who sacrifices everything she’s known for the man with whom she’s smitten. She, and the story, are weak and not at all helped by the laughable nature of the ghosts who float around with hatchets brimming from their heads. For a Halloween movie I was neither scared, nor intrigued by this common plot. It was not worth my time or money.