<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman
Running time: 2 hours
Crimson Peak isn’t about cheap scares, even though it has those. It’s about a visually enchanting drama that will thrill you in most part because of Jessica Chastain’s far-scarier-than-a-ghost performance.
This is not a ‘scary movie’ in the ghostly, paranormal sense. It’s scary because of the human characters that possess every frame. The story of Crimson Peak isn’t new. But the look, feel and demented nature of it all rivets you as you watch in wonderment at the eerie set pieces and intrigue that unfolds before your eyes.
At first you’ll be a bit perplexed at what is going on. Things move a tad rapidly in this Victorian era tale. It’s a time when women writers were frowned upon and men were supposed to have rough hands from lots of hard work. But Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is not an ordinary girl. She writes about ghosts. And then into her life comes English Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) with an idea for a machine that will mine red clay and make him a fortune. Edith’s father (Jim Beaver) is reluctant to finance this venture and soon becomes suspicious of Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) who take a keen interest in his daughter.
By this point you know that something is up and the two ‘siblings’ are plotting. But is this a ghostly plot or a very human one? Before you know it Edith is married to Thomas and they move from America to England where the Sharpe family home sits sinking atop land filled with crimson clay. Dilapidated and creepy, the house is simply terrifying at points even without the usual tropes of scary movies. You’ll guess at who the ghosts in the house are, and what the Sharpes are upto. You’ll probably be right but you’ll still be absorbed.
Jessica Chastain’s wickedly insane Lucille is the star of the movie. She’s both funny and downright maniacal. Her simplest glance or look can strike fear in your heart. In a way, the film isn’t about Edith at all. It’s about Lucille and her chilling, psychotic mission to keep her brother Thomas within the crumbling walls of their mansion where terrible secrets creep out of the floors and walls at night.
Of course Edith has a saviour in Dr Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) but she ends up saving him. In that sense, Crimson Peak is a strongly feminist film.
Go watch Crimson Peak for its delicious darkness, fantastically created sets and costumes as well as an award-worthy performance from Jessica Chastain.