crimson peak tom hiddleston

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Think you know what to expect from veteran horror and genre director Guillermo del Toro?  Gangly, pallid, slimy creatures such as we saw in Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, right?  Cryptic underworlds, bewildering dreamscapes, and collossal, ocean-stomping robot avatars?!

Think again!  In his latest effort to scare and transport his audiences, Crimson Peak, del Toro has conjured up a true Gothic world of Victorian elegance, tender romance, and Sherlockian sleuthing…  With some slimy creatures.  Which are also, strange as it may sound, beautifully executed.

No doubt about it, del Toro is a visionary.  Despite some clear aesthetic leanings, his film repertoire is surprisingly diverse, from 1997’s Mimic to 2013’s Pacific Rim.  His films are always rich in detail and visually stunning.  And this time he just happened to hit all the right notes for this particular viewer.

Allerdale Hall

Crimson Peak is the tale of young American heiress and authoress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland), deeply skeptical of the British aristocracy… until she’s won over by the ambitious, earnest baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, Thor, Avengers, The Hollow Crown), who is trying to secure financing for a risky mining venture to extract red clay from beneath his crumbling family mansion.  Though Edith’s father nurses doubts about the man and his motives, his own untimely death frees up both the young woman—and her fortune.  Swept off her feet, she is whisked off to Cumberland, England and the less-than-enchanting family home, the gorgeously decrepit Allerdale Hall.

She must share her new life with her sister-in-law Lucille (Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty), in the archetypal role of unwelcoming Gothic housekeeper.  She knows all the family secrets, and keeps them from her young, impressionable sister-in-law.  It’s a powerhouse performance, captivating and creepy, and Chastain inhabits the role perfectly. Continue reading