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"Crimson Peak" Piquing Interest

WEST LONG BRANCH,  NJ–Beneath the new fallen snow, a deep red clay pathway leads to Allerdale Hall, a Gothic mansion closed off from the rest of England. As winter approaches, snow continues to cover the trail until it is hidden from sight–and for good reason. Something about this desolate isolation in this massive estate attracts supernatural happenings and the presence of ghosts, setting the scene for an unnerving story to unfold. They call it Crimson Peak.

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But a castle-like mansion is only one of the eerie yet spectacular images that captures the attention in the recent film “Crimson Peak.” Thanks to the movie’s exceptionally talented and experienced director, several elements help deliver an atmosphere and setting that tops the way we perceive Gothic romances.
The premise and execution of “Crimson Peak” will surprise many moviegoers as the film was marketed to the public as a horror film. However, it proves to be a dark romance featuring chilling horror aspects in a time period and setting that fulfills del Toro’s unique vision. This may disappoint horror fanatics who walk into the theater expecting to be jumping out of their seats in terror. Still, “Crimson Peak” is much more complex and engaging as a Gothic romance story than just another generic horror film.
The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain as Edith, Sir Thomas Sharpe, and Sharpe’s sister Lucille respectively. The main character, Edith, is introduced as a writer who writes “ghost stories.” However, she corrects her editor by explaining that her stories are metaphorical tales with substance, they just happen to have ghosts in them. This event actually mirrors how the film was created and organized. It is a film with an engaging story of romance, death, and mystery that utilizes horror aspects.
Continuing with the plot, Edith finds herself married to Sir Thomas Sharpe, and they live together in Allerdale Hall (Crimson Peak) with Lucille. Edith ignores the constant warnings about Crimson Peak until she is forced to experience just what lies within mansion and the story it is trying to hide.
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By far the most memorable aspects of this film involve its design, visuals, and composition. Given that the film takes place at the turn of the twentieth century, the costumes mirror that. Every costume used in the film stays true to the time period it is portraying and feels very natural. The over-the-top and vibrant clothes worn by Wasikowska are especially eye-catching.
In addition to costumes, the entire design of the film is remarkable in the way that it captures the tone. Deep red blood drips down the walls of the mansion and penetrates the pure white snow outside–just two examples of how the color red pops the entire film against its other dark features. Meanwhile, the mansion’s interior gives off an abandoned and cryptic dollhouse look. The audience can see the rust and mold on the walls against each and every prop incorporated on the set. Add in a dilapidated roof that allows snowflakes to just gently descend onto and dust the carpet, and the film secures its ability to emit a gloomy tone embodying the gloominess of the Allerdale Hall.
The cinematography of the film is brilliant and could not have been executed more stunningly. Even in seemingly bright party scenes, the lighting does not seem to illuminate the scene as it would in other films. The overall look of the film remains very deep and dark in tone, like a Gothic romance tale should be. The atmosphere and chosen time period for the film greatly benefits its mood in that it makes it feel like a legend. When trying to create a spooky vibe, setting a film in a Victorian style era with Gothic architecture seems to evoke an unsettling feeling more than a modern setting ever could. As a result, everything about the design and look of the film is gorgeously done.
Photo courtesy of www.s3.amazonaws.com
Photo courtesy of www.s3.amazonaws.com

Keeping in this mind, what makes “Crimson Peak” so great as a film is how it is able to immerse the audience into a world so deeply with little to distract them or take them out of it. Everything flows so naturally, and the film’s continuity never fails. It never feels like the audience is simply watching actors on a screen mechanically going through each scene. It feels real and consistent where the audience is submerged from beginning to end. Part of this is due to the performances by the lead actors in the film. Given that the time period greatly differs from modern films, it is often a challenge to find actors who can portray these kinds of people so well. However, everything from their mannerisms, accents, and the delivery of their lines captured the period perfectly.
With all of the strong points that made this film so intriguing to watch and interact with, however, “Crimson Peak” did struggle with its script and plot. The substance of the film is not as strong as its visuals, as it does not begin to fully surface until near the end. The second act of the film, although beautiful, does have a very slow pace and could have been supplied with a few more plot points. The storyline is simple for the most part, but as a whole, this movie-going experience is one not to be missed.
It is quite refreshing to see a so-called horror movie come out this Halloween season that is not a typical low-budget movie that gives off the impression it could have been written and produced in an hour. “Crimson Peak” has a lot to offer the genre and feels complete in the way it brings together its film elements and features to create an extravagant experience. Its quality use of everything that makes cinema so impressive cements”Crimson Peak” as a great pick to see this Halloween season.