As I mentioned recently in my review of Goosebumps, I am not exactly a fan of horror films. I am way to jumpy, not because the actual jumps come from something scary, I mostly just do not enjoy the tension brought on by the score. Or maybe I am a little scared, what of it? Anyways, I try to avoid such films whenever possible– but that doesn’t mean I avoid them entirely. I was intrigued early on by the film Crimson Peak which starring Mia Wasikowksa, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Jim Beaver (BOBBY FROM SUPERNATURAL). And, honestly, what piqued my interested about the film was, mostly, just to see what Tom Hiddleston chose as he newest role after his run as Loki from MCU. The film seemed like an odd choice for him, but what do I know, right? He started off in more dramatic stage-acting so maybe this film follows more in his roots?
Edith Cushing is a well-to-do homebody and aspiring writer around the turn on the 20th century. When she was younger she was visited by the ghost of her dead mother who warns her to “beware of Crimson Peak”. Her father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), is a wealthy business man who is visited by Sir Thomas Sharp (Tom Hiddleston) and Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) because they want him to invest in a clay mining invention of Thomas’s own creation. Carter is unimpressed by the baronette’s display and refuses to invest. Thomas and Edith, however, strike up an unlikely romance much to Carter’s dismay.
Carter hires a private investigator to look into the Sharpes as he does not trust them. Meanwhile Edith and Thomas continue their courtship and Thomas eventually decides that he wants to wed Edith. However on the day that he is to propose, Carter finds mysterious information about the Baronette and use that information to blackmail Thomas into breaking Edith’s heart and leaving for his homeland. And Carter believes that he has succeeded when Thomas just does that. However, the following day Edith’s father ends up murdered and Thomas soon after apologizes and reveals that her father was the one who put him up to it. He proposes and they, along with Thomas’s sister end up going back to their family home.
Once there, Edith begins to have strange dreams and strange encounters throughout the shambled house. She constantly sees ghosts and clues of someone being murdered in the house at some point. But the Sharpe’s insist on her needed rest and that it is just an illusion created by the old house. However the longer she stays, the more weird stuff starts to happen and she begins to think that the Sharpes aren’t as well-intentioned as they appear to be.
The film is a bit of a slow-starter and spends far too much time outside of Crimson Peak and has way too much set-up before ever entering the, truly beautiful, home of the Sharpes. The movie spends a lot of time showing us Edith as an aspiring writer and is seemingly an outcast in her own community. Women around her aspire to be rich housewives while Edith aspires to be independent. Or does she? She talks a big game of being progressive and the film certainly tries to paint a picture that she is a strong independent woman but, in all honesty, she lives at home with her father–living off of his money and the moment he dies she allows herself to be whisked away by the winds of romance and seems content becoming a housewife after all. I’m all for showing woman fighting the power, but when it serves little-to-no purpose in the film it comes off as annoying and distracting.
Additionally, I also did not see the point of the ghosts in the story. The plot boils down to the Sharpes being evil and, really, killing people to keep their enterprise running just a little bit longer. The ghosts, in fact, aren’t even evil spirits in the movie, they are ghosts that are trying to warn Edith of the impending doom just like the ghost of her mother. However, Edith is the only one in the movie that can see the ghosts and they play no other role that to warn her and look creepy. AND BECAUSE THEY LOOK CREEPY she doesn’t even listen to them. It just feels as if the ghosts are in the movie just so we can firmly plant this film in the horror genre…that is it. However, I will say that the ghosts are visually stunning and unique. They aren’t just half-invisible apparitions, they are skeleton-like, bloody and creepy as all hell. They are truly stunning and, while I don’t like their use in the story, I loved how they looked on-screen and actually looked forward to them being on-screen.
But honestly, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain were the best parts of this film. Chastain played off the creepy jealous bitch/murder-type perfectly. You always felt as if she was ready to stab Edith and that gave the whole movie an air of tension in every scene. Hiddleston also did a great job of being torn between the love of family and the love of her new wife and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing his internal struggle play off on-screen. And he played the part of good guy and villain amazingly well to the point that you actually want his character to be redeemed. Seriously, the fact that Hiddleston can be so charming that even being, essentially, a serial killer he is redeemable. You want him to survive and want his love with Edith to succeed even if you know that it is not really possible.
And, if you’re like me, you might be wondering if the movie is scary. What I mean to say is, if you don’t like scary movies because, well, you’re a scaredy-cat (like me) you do not have to fear this movie. There are a couple of predictable jump-scenes but other than that the movie is more bloody and gruesome rather than frightening. It really didn’t feel like a horror film in the classic sense but more like an artful drama. Crimson Peak, the house in which the movie is based and takes place in, is a really stunning place and there were tons of amazing visuals in the film. The colors were all deep and stood out even with the darkness of the house.
Crimson Peak was a very compelling story of two people who desperately wanted to keep a hold of their status as well as each other. They share an unbreakable bond and it isn’t until Edith comes into their lives where cracks in their relationship begin to grow. What we are left with, is Hiddleston’s character having to deal with the inner turmoil of choosing between the love of his sister and the love of his wife. The only thing I really dislike, other than length of the film, is the use of ghosts whose only real purpose was to be a plot-device that allows the main character to distrust the sharps. (10/20)
Edith’s character was actually extremely annoying and contradictory throughout the film. As I said previously she seemed to want to appear progressive but never really acted as such. Additionally she does the same thing every woman tends to do in this genre and constantly run towards danger regardless of every piece of evidence that points to the fact that the character should RUN and HIDE. But the movie is saved by Sir Thomas Sharpe’s character as watching him battle his inner demons is worth going out to catch this film. (15/20)
Chastain and Hiddleston were amazing in this movie and pulled of their roles perfectly. In fact, really everyone did a solid job in this film, it is just that those two actors stood out so much in this film and seem to eclipse the rest of the cast in terms of talent and ability. (18/20)
The whole beginning of the film was entirely too slow and it made the second half of the film drag a bit because, well, you just get sleepy after a while. Also the ghosts, while ominous, served very little purpose in the story and the film could have easily been written and done without them and the tone of the film would have probably stayed the same. (15/30)
The ads for the film did a decent job of showing what you were in store for without revealing too much. The trailers seemed creepy but intriguing and did a decent job of drumming up buzz even if part of that buzz was just excitement to see Tom Hiddleston. (6/10)