You can leave the past behind, but it will never leave the world. That seems to be the theme that del Toro tries to emphasise in his latest gothic period him.
“Crimson Peak”, which is one of the most highly-anticipated horror movies of the year, marks del Toro’s return to his Spanish horror roots since directing a non-horror movie aka “Pacific Rim” in 2013.
However, through Wasikowska’s character Edith Cushing, Toro reminds viewers that this is actually not a horror film, but rather a story with ghosts in it. The film opens with a lullaby, so hauntingly beautiful that brings a dark gothic feel to the movie.
We are then introduced to Edith, who looks as pale as the pristine white snow while informing viewers that “ghosts are real”. Her supernatural beliefs stemmed from her childhood, during which she received a horrifying visit from her late mother. Without offering any explanation, it warns her of a nighmarish future: “Beware of Crimson Peak”.
Much time has passed, the warning doesn’t seem to have a lasting impact on Edith, even though she grew up to become an aspiring writer with an an eye for the supernatural.
It’s only when the dark and mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe (played by Tom Hiddleston) walks into her life that she is once again warned about staying away from Crimson Peak. Travelling all the way from England, Thomas comes to Edith’s New York home to meet her industrialist father Carter Cushing (played by Jim Beaver). Struggling to move forward from his family’s past, he seeks funds to finance an invention that will rebuild his family fortune.
However, that didn’t stop romance from blooming between Edith and Thomas. Immune to the charms of her childhood friend Dr. Alan McMichael (played by Charlie Hunnam), Edith falls for Thomas and quickly leaves everything behind after a personal tragedy hits her.
She is taken back to his ancestral home, a crumbling British mansion that is built atop a mountain of blood-red clay. It is from there that she discovers the horrifying truth about her husband and the house that “breathes, bleeds, and remembers”.
The mansion itself is a grand masterpiece. Meticulously designed with not a single period detail overlooked, it deepens the dark and moody atmosphere that del Toro built earlier in the scene when young Edith encountered the ghost of her dead mother.
However, floors seem to creak at every step they make in this tragic mansion. And then there’s a ruined roof, where leaves and snow would drift down to the grand foyer. Butterfly-eating black moths flutter through corridors and when the crimson clay stains the snow, the whole mansion just doesn’t seem like a place for any living human being to stay at all.
The fact that this mansion is where Thomas and his menancing sister Lucille grew up made us suspect a far more sinister plot.
As such, we can sort of see how the story would end from a mile away. It was only a matter of time before all the secrets and mysteries surrounding the Sharpe siblings and their mansion would get unlocked by Edith.
Viewers may fear the living more than the dead because ghosts are merely used as decorations in “Crimson Peak”. When ghosts do appear in the film, it is the humans that turn out to be more harmful towards Edith.
With his focus on gothic aesthetic, there’s no denying that this film is del Toro’s effort to revive gothic horror, a horror genre that is popular through the 1940s. It is no wonder that this movie has been rated R because of the intense bursts of violence towards the end of the film.
This film is a tragic and twisted love story that brings out the worst, or rather the ugliest side of humans. It is also perhaps the most beautiful horror film we’ve seen in decades, with costume designers and cinematographers putting insane details to the characters’ costumes and the overall mood of the film.
The movie suggests that sometimes, humans could be the most dangerous creatures of all. Del Toro did a decent job bringing his fascination with gothic romance through this film, while grappling with the rawest form of humanity from a peculiar angle.
Co-produced by Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures, “Crimson Peak” is slated to be released in Malaysian cinemas on 15th October 2015.
For more information, visit the movie’s official website.