Film Reviews

SO IT GOES – <i>Crimson Peak</i> (2015)

SO IT GOES – Crimson Peak (2015)

Sarah Gough-Piazza

November 18th, 2015


Guillermo del Toro is known for his visually stimulating and commonly disturbing ways of filmmaking, from his 2013 blockbuster hit Pacific Rim to his Spanish cult classic Pan’s Labyrinth. With his grotesque visuals and outlandish yet amazing storylines, del Toro has been called a master of the horror genre. His most recent film, Crimson Peak, does not disappoint for those looking for the traditional del Toro experience. Its gothic setting and beautifully disturbing images are nothing shy of perfection.

Set in 19th century America, Crimson Peak tells the story of Edith (Mia Wasikowska), an ambitious writer and the daughter of a wealthy businessman. After her father’s gruesome murder, Edith marries the charming and seductive Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a young English baronet who has come to America with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) to seek investors for his clay-mining invention amongst whom was Edith’s father. The three of them return to England where they move back into the Sharpe’s estate, Allerdale Hall. Soon after their return, however, Edith begins to encounter ghostly figures and uncovers the secrets of the Sharpe family, ultimately pinning the question of whether or not the true monsters are the ghouls or those made of flesh and bone.

Crimson Peak is a visual film. Every moment is beautiful in its own separate way. Whether it be the gothic architecture of Allerdale Hall or the bloody, mutated bodies of the corpses haunting its corridors, every scene is skillfully plotted out and adds much more to the plot. This kind of film is not “jump-scare” horror, but rather a thoughtful and disturbed representation of the genre. The imagery throughout is terrifying, with mangled corpses stalking in the night or ghostly skeletal figures hovering above as you sleep. Much like the majority of his films, del Toro succeeds in creating a world entirely his own that complements the plot extremely well.

The plot throughout the movie is consistently tense. Scenes feel fluid with the rest of the movie and the film does not become stagnant at any moment. However, the only drawback of the film is in the characterization of Edith. At the beginning of the film, Edith is seen as a wise-cracking aspiring writer, a strong woman who doesn’t conform to general expectations of women at that time. All of that changes, however, when Edith marries Thomas. She remains the main character; however, there is no longer power to her presence. The audience doesn’t hear about her ambitions for the rest of the film and we no longer get any sort of quick-witted comments. She conforms to the traits expected of a wife at that time, willing to bend to please her husband while maintaining a productive homestead. Contrasted to the character of Lucille, who denies all social roles implicated on her at this time and becomes a well-rounded (although disturbed) character, Edith’s character becomes disappointingly passive. Although Edith plays the main protagonist within this film, her character isn’t consistent throughout, which becomes aggravating in terms of representation of women during the 19th century.

Crimson Peak is a modern representation of the gothic genre that sticks to its traditions while also incorporating modern visual aids. This film is a must-see for anyone wanting something different, a film that makes you question what’s real within the universe. It is a wonderful take on the gothic tradition that does not disappoint those wanting a true del Toro horror experience.

Crimson Peak continues its run at Cinemark 17.

Sarah Gough-Piazza is a senior at the University of Oregon studying comparative literature with a concentration in German and creative writing. She spends her time obsessively browsing YouTube and Tumblr, and has come to the conclusion that she likes dogs more than humans. So It Goes is an irregular column in which she provides critical analyses of films screening locally.

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