Crimson Peak, released on Oct. 16 of this year, is a gothic romance about a young woman named Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and her marriage to the dashing Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston).
In the beginning of the film, Edith is a writer trying to get her stories published despite the obstacle posed by her gender. She’s smart, independent and somewhat obstinate–an interesting character all around.
Then she meets Thomas Sharpe, who is in town on business. Even though Edith initially seems opposed to Thomas’s title and societal position, she soon finds herself falling for him. After some brief drama produced by Edith’s disapproving father, the two are eventually married–even if under unhappy circumstances.
From there everything gets stranger and stranger, as we’re introduced to some beautifully rendered ghosts, Thomas’s dark past, and a bloody secret kept within the walls of the Sharpes’ manor. That’s all good and fine, but honestly, the second half of the movie feels entirely separate from the first.
All of the trailers for the movie focused on this second part, with scenes of Mia Wasikowska in flowing robes and wild hair amongst white and red backdrops, or reacting in some way to the many spooky apparitions present in the film. Nothing is mentioned, though, about the beginning of the movie, which is, arguably, the more engaging part of the film.
The set-up produced in the first half didn’t correspond well with what happened down the line. Also, we lose the wonderful character traits initially given to Edith. We don’t hear much more about her writing or her thoughts on social economics. She becomes something of a “damsel” instead. To be fair, she’s not your typical damsel–she’s fairly resourceful even as truly awful events transpire. Still, her transformation is both confusing and disappointing.
While Crimson Peak creates some compelling characters and relationships, others fall flat. Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), for example, apparently cares enough for Edith to travel all of the way from America to Europe, and then through a snowstorm on foot to rescue Edith from her husband and sister-in-law. And yet, we don’t get a strong sense of the relationship between Edith and Alan. It certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the intense chemistry between Edith and her demented husband.
The movie as a whole is quite enjoyable, with a well-paced plot, stunning visuals, and a few shocking twists along the way. But, as with many enjoyable films, this one could have been better.
I give it 3/5 stars
Jess Reed, Co-Editor-in-Chief