Oh Crimson Peak, I really really really wanted to love you but sadly you did not deliver. You had so many things in your favor with the top selling point being Tom Hiddleston playing the lead male character. Before I talk about why you didn’t work, I will say that you are definitely the most aesthetically beautiful film I’ve watched this year. The costumes are stunning, the scenery and cinematography are breathtaking and you truly captured the atmosphere of a gothic romance / horror film. Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain were perfectly cast and they performed well with the script they were given. Guillermo del Toro directed and co-wrote the film which I’m certain is why it is so visually satisfying. I went into the film with healthy enthusiasm and an open heart because I was prepared to declare Crimson Peak with it’s promising trailer and appealing posters a new favorite. Everything seemed to be going in it’s favor until about a third of the way into the film.
As Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) states early on regarding the book she’d been writing, it’s not a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts in it which is exactly what Crimson Peak is. The ghosts could’ve easily been removed and the story wouldn’t have had to change at all. In the beginning, the ghost of Edith’s mother haunts the house she now shares with her father to heed a very specific warning and the effect is done really well. As the story progresses, more and more ghosts are used and they ultimately lose any eerie effect they originally had because they become almost commonplace. Since Edith is the only one who acknowledges them, I have to wonder if it’s a The Turn of the Screw type situation but again, that’s a plot hole that’s never explained. There were also issues with Edith’s character who differentiates herself from the women of the time early on, but relies on Sir Thomas to “save” her once tragedy strikes.
Overall, the plot of the film is lacking. It’s doesn’t create a memorable tale and it’s clear that the focus of the film is heavily placed on the visuals while the other elements fall to wayside. There were several little unexplained plot holes including the significance of Lucille’s ring and one large one being exactly why the Sir Thomas and Lucille have gotten into the cyclic situation they’re in. There’s one reason that the audience can infer but it feels like it must be more than a simple attachment considering the messy web they’ve woven. There’s also a constant seeping of red clay coming through the walls of the house which add to the horrorific aesthetic of the story, but this and the presence of moths everywhere seem difficult to just accept and it’s odd that Edith wouldn’t inquire about them.
After Crimson Peak ended I was left feeling satisfied that I completed my goal of seeing it opening weekend but completely dissatisfied with the time I wasted on an incomplete story. Less than halfway through the film I knew the blu-ray wasn’t something I would be budgeting for in the future. I struggle with flat out saying that it was a bad film because of how pretty and atmospheric it is but when I think about the story I can confidentally state that I didn’t enjoy it without having any reservations for doing so. I thought it would be impossible to fail, especially with Tom Hiddleston as eye candy but alas, it did. Le sigh. I don’t necessarily need to have every loose end tied up to enjoy a tale but Crimson Peak spent too much time perfecting its overt visuals and came across as a rushed and unfinished in regard to the plot.
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers. (via IMDB)