"Crimson Peak isn’t a film meant to scare you. It is a film made to enrapture you and bring you into this melodramatic love story in a very grand way"

Guillermo del Toro has specified multiple times that Crimson Peak is not a horror film but a gothic romance. After last night, I understand and agree 100% with his statement. It is true that the trailer and some marketing done for it might not give you that impression, but the actual film definitely will.

Crimson Peak starts with a close up of Edith, the heroine of the film: “Ghosts are real, this much I know. First time I saw one I was ten. It was my mother's.” Seconds later we are taken back in time and witness a young Edith who has just lost one of her parents and who discovers at a very young age she hasn’t been fully abandoned. She is visited not once, but twice, by her mother, with the same warning “My child, when the time comes, beware of Crimson Peak!”. However, only later on will Edith understand. As background info, the name of Crimson Peak comes from the red clay on which the house itself was built. The colour however fits very well with the story and gives it an even more of gothic vibe.

We get to familiarise ourselves with the characters quite soon and find out that Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is the daughter of a rich American entrepreneur. She meets Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) when he comes to secure funding from her father. Bewitched by the Englishman and, even against her father’s dislike, she keeps very close to him. Thomas Sharpe encourages as much as possible her behaviour, against his sister’s Lucille (Jessica Chastain) dislike. A very intimate scene, which clearly shows their chemistry, is at a party when they end up waltzing together; “This requires the perfect partner. Will you be mine?”.

As the story develops, it is revealed that another man was interested in Edith, but to her, Dr. Alan (Charlie Hunnam) is simply a good friend. A friend who always seems to watch over her. Not long after Thomas and Lucille are forced to return to England, Carter Cushing (Edith’s father) is killed, leaving his only child somewhat defenceless. Edith, most probably as any woman in love would have done, finds consolation in the arms of her beloved and ends up abandoning everything she knows and is familiar with in order to be with him.

They move back to England and for the first time she has some contact with the truth behind the beautiful mask worn by Thomas. She finds herself in a semi deserted house which is presented as having more than one unsafe place. Lucille is sort of the gatekeeper, and a very strict one, not too happy to give up any of her keys. A much in depth look at things also make Edith realise that what seemed like a very promising beginning may as well be the beginning of her end.

The house itself is absolutely fascinating: old paintings, the chandeliers, the elevator and the general feel of the grand rooms. There is a clear parallel drawn between the beautiful warm home she has left behind in America and the new hunted gothic mansion she has come to reside in. Everything in Cumberland seems to be cold, other than the tea. That not so very tasty tea Lucille insists upon. Surrounded by nothing, the house seems at times a sinking prison. A very violent one towards the end of the movie. Visually speaking the décor is the definition of perfection. And, of course, this manages to somewhat increase the impact the violent scenes have on the audience. The costumes are absolutely breath-taking and help the audience make an even more clear judgement on how every character is deep down.

Edith is mostly dressed in light colours and wears extremely feminine accessories. There is a scene where a cape she was wearing had material made violets sewed onto it, garments which I would have probably sworn to have been real flowers. Her night gown is white and she has a general innocent aura. Mia Wasikowska, with her angelic looks, was very well selected for the role as she manages to balance that innocence with strength. Hard to do you would say, but wait until you see the last part of the film. She is inquisitive and smart and eventually manages to overcome the danger that surrounds her, proving she doesn’t need saving. Also, as a character she is very easy to relate to and when she fully takes her life in her own hands I did have a bit of a “You go girl!” moment.

Thomas Sharpe is sort of a sensitive misunderstood idealist who seems quite controlled by his older sister and the bond they share. He is extremely well portrayed by Tom Hiddleston as a very elegant and charming young man who knows how to use this attributes to his advantage. Hiddleston manages to bring to the table a bit of his own je ne sais quoi and allows us to see how torn his character actually is.

In complete opposition to Edith, we have Lucille, somewhat the mastermind of it all. Always dressed in dark colours, Lucille inspires a mad and scary strength. For the role Jessica Chastain actually changed her hair colour which did make her look quite evil and extremely harsh. Lucille’s love for Thomas is one that breaks boundaries and it’s probably the only somewhat true feeling she has. Which is why the betrayal is felt even deeper when Thomas actually makes a move against her.

The plot, the actors and the aesthetics of the film do turn it into an addictive one. If you have seen Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth you will be fascinated by it. Crimson Peak isn’t a film meant to scare you. It is a film made to enrapture you and bring you into this melodramatic love story in a very grand way.