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[Movie] Crimson Peak: Love and Monsters

Buckle in, kids. I have thoughts.

First, a generally spoiler free quick review. (The spoilers will be coming hard and fast later, never you fear.) I’ve seen this movie twice now, and I like it more on second viewing than I did the first time around. Which is to say that I enjoyed it enough at time one to want to see it again, but this second time I was able to pick up so much more detail and richness, I’ve really gone from like to love.

Crimson Peak is a gothic romance in which innocent and violently orphaned budding writer Edith is romanced by Baronet Thomas Sharpe, overseen by his unblinking and intense sister Lucille. It’s obvious from the beginning that the Sharpe siblings are up to no good, the real question is how deep the corruption goes. When Thomas brings Edith home to Allerdale Hall, a house that’s a near-living embodiment of director Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetic and rotting austerely from the inside out, she must unravel the mysteries of Thomas’s recent past in order to survive her own future. She’s helped, for certain values of help, along in this endeavor by the numerous female ghosts that haunt Allerdale, but the true horror is not found with the dead, but the living.

The cast–Mia Wasikowska as Edith, Jessica Chastain as Lucille, Tom Hiddleston as Thomas–is what makes the movie. Edith acts as an excellent foil for Lucille and Thomas and a catalyst for internal struggle and development. The movie’s aesthetic has the richness we’ve come to expect from del Toro, an exemplar of the literary gothic that I personally love to witness but cannot stand reading, since I find the dark depths and layering visually appealing but impenetrable and normally overwritten in prose. With a less compelling cast there could have been a style over substance problem; the story of the movie and its purported mysteries aren’t really that twisty or terribly mysterious. The strength is in the characters and their relationships, and between the acting and visual delivery, del Toro has put together something that adds new depths to old tropes.

(And let’s face it, you could cast Tom Hiddleston as a Great Old One in a Lovecraft movie and I’d come out of it saying, “Well, but what about the inner life of Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young?” Damn the man and his puppy dog eyes. He made me like Coriolanus, for fuck’s sake.)

And this is the part where we get into the SPOILERS. Do not continue if you wish to remain unspoiled. I’m going to break this up into loose, non-sequential sections.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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