Free Press Journal

Crimson Peak: Ornate, ghostly spectacle


Mia Wasikowska in a scene from the motion picture "Crimson Peak." Credit: Kerry Hayes, Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Film: Crimson Peak

CAST: Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikovska, Tom Hiddleston,Jim Beaver, Charlie Hunnam

DIRECTOR: Gillermo Del Toro

All the children I know and have known are NOT afraid of the dark. Or the dead. (This, I know, having observed them at funerals). Movies, of course, like to depict otherwise and Guillermo del Toro’s lush, ornate, violent spectacle of a film, is the first to the best of my knowledge in showing a girl child unafraid of spectral manifestations, a fearlessness is carried over into adulthood.

The odd thing though, is that the fearsome apparition the heroine sees as a child, is that of her mother. When the mother-daughter relationship had been a loving one, why would the dead woman manifest as an awful to behold spirit?

The ghosts who appear later when the Gothic romance shifts from the US to Sir Thomas (Hiddleston) Sharpe’s crumbling mansion in Cumbria, England, are clearly inspired by Gunther von Hagen’s Plastination (of human corpses) and designed to fill viewers with fear and loathing instead of sympathy, because they are, all victims of a hideous plot contrived by the vile and wicked. Truly, the evil mind is more loathsome than any ghost.

But Edith Cushing, the Mary Shelley admirer played by Mia Wasikoska (all sweetness and light) has our sympathies and the final, charged sequences make the viewer long for a rescuer, a saviour from the monsters. (“Monstrous love makes monsters of us all”). As Sharpe’s older sister, Jessica Chastain’s Lizzie Borden persona smoulders with repressed emotion and hints, from the start, of mysterious depths. And the possibility of an Oscar. Make that two. For the lavish sets and sumptuous production design.