Crimson Peak (2015)
October 17, 2015 3:34 AM - Subscribe

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds...and remembers.

Fancy period dresses, plenty of period smooching, a seasonal helping of ghosts!
posted by sparkletone (60 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I quite enjoyed it! The trailers sold it as more scary than it was (I'd call it a creepy movie rather than a scary one). I saw someone on twitter say that if you feel it has a fundamental flaw, it is likely that it is a relatively straight-forward execution of its genre and ... I can kind of see where they're coming from there, but I guess I haven't spent enough time around dilapidated 18th century manor houses and their haunted occupants to be tired of the tropes.

Seeing Jessica Chastain a few weeks ago in The Martian and then in this was quite the whiplash. Seeing this sat next to a few older people who had somehow bought tickets to this when they meant to see Bridge Of Spies was also quite something (they seemed to generally have a good time despite this being not at all what they thought they'd signed up for).
posted by sparkletone at 3:42 AM on October 17, 2015


Visually gorgeous and the gothest gothy movie to goth around in this decade, but the plot holes are huge. Everything having to do with the red clay and its mining operation (under the foundations of *a house built over semi-liquid clay*, seriously?) is ridiculous.
posted by sukeban at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2015


...Also, the house is built in the Gothic Revival style, not remotely medieval, and I can't imagine how it could have gotten so decayed in the 60-70 years between its construction and the ~1900 when the movie is set, if it's been inhabited by normal people with some upkeep money until 20-30 years before the setting.
posted by sukeban at 2:35 PM on October 17, 2015


The first and likely last time you will see Buffalo, NY portrayed as the warmer of two locales.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:52 PM on October 17, 2015 [10 favorites]




I loved it for the overwrought melodrama that it was, but I really do wish it had been filmed in Technicolor.

It needed even more saturation, neon reds and yellows searing the retinas in the midst of the greys and blacks and whites of despair.

I'm mildly disappointed that the house did not sink in rivers of blood-red clay, gushing out like the elevator in The Shining, but that is a very very mild disappointment compared to the general delight this movie gave me.

Plus, I got to nerd out immensely. I don't know if it was intentional, but the hallway that Edith first sees her mother in? It had very familiar wallpaper.

Add in Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, and Charlie Hunnam for even more nerd cachet, and I was utterly delighted.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:18 AM on October 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, I ended up having a Chastain day, because after this, I saw The Martian and then Mama was on TV when I got home. Three very different roles, and I enjoyed her in all of them.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:19 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm mildly disappointed that the house did not sink in rivers of blood-red clay, gushing out like the elevator in The Shining

I was expecting del Toro to cement the extended homage to The Fall of the House of Usher with the house crumbling down at the end, too, but it wasn't to be.

That said, you do have the Roger Corman version of The Fall of the House of Usher if you want crazy 60s colors. After the Toho version of the Pacific Rim trailer, someone should Corman-ize a trailer for Crimson Peak, with closeups to "the book of the movie" and all.
posted by sukeban at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought that this was pretty good. It was visually amazing, and the colors (like the yellows and purples) seemed like a deliberate nod to Corman and Hammer. The design on the house and the ghosts was similarly impressive. I also understand that, much like the ghost in Edith's story, the ghosts are more metaphorical than horrific. It's just that the story they're telling isn't that interesting. Rich, decadent, European aristocrats murdering women to prop up their decaying lifestyle isn't all that novel. I dunno... I really wanted to like this, and I DID like the visuals, but the story just left me with a shrug.
posted by codacorolla at 3:52 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]




I think visually it was stunning and I think that helped me forgive some faults. Like, all of the visuals gave me a really striking sense of the setting, which seemed appropriate for all the talk Edith did about what made a place. And I thought the ghosts' design and how they moved were SUPER effective (THAT GHOST IN THE CLOSET WHERE THE WAX RECORDINGS WERE THO).

I also liked how Edith's manuscript was a ghost story and she was told to add in a romance and I think that's interesting to think about in the context of the movie. Guillermo del Toro sent out that tweet right before the release reminding audiences that it wasn't a horror movie it was a gothic romance? I can't remember the phrasing, but that tweet in conjunction with that whole (super-minimized) subplot of the film kind of put a different skew on things. I feel like there was a lot of meta in this film actually but at the same time I'm not sure how well it pulled it off. All of the mementos of the previous wives being present throughout the house as a more physical manifestation of the haunting than the actual ghost. You know, metaphors and whatnot like codacorolla talked about.

But yeah. I do think it was advertised as something else, so I'm not sure if I expected more or if I just expected different. I still got some good scares from it but I don't know if I was sold on the love story--I don't know if it was super rushed or didn't get quite as much screen time as it needed but I couldn't really buy Thomas and Edith actually being in love with each other until maybe at the very end. Maybe that was kind of the point though, that he wasn't supposed to fall in love with her? And she needed the validation? (ok and he was hot)

And the thing is while I wasn't super thrilled with it, I was thinking about it while trying to get to sleep and I think at the core it's actually kind of a good/classic ghost/horror story? Two siblings systematically entrapping and killing vulnerable women, ostensibly for the money but, in my opinion, really because of Lucille's possessiveness of her brother. The money reasoning honestly seems to be more to make things more palatable for Thomas rather than a real necessity, especially once they have Edith, as she was signing over all that she had and by that point Thomas' machine was working. There was no reason to kill her really except that it meant Lucille would have to share Thomas. So really the monster was Lucille's obsession with her brother all along and if she couldn't have him to herself then no one could?

There are some tangled motivations that I could probably stand to think about more and honestly I think Lucille/Thomas' dynamic is, for me, worth the thought. I mean who came up with the plan in the first place. I feel like Thomas would have gone into the first marriage with semi-honest intentions but maybe he would've been totally enthusiastic about killing wives all along . It doesn't seem like it though. It seems more like he was (relatively) spoiled by his sister and, rather than taking the money from the first one, fixing the house, and getting honest work somewhere he was content to dump the money into his failed, failed machines. Oh, Thomas.

Anyway I think there's more to the characters and just more there if you want it to be but I'm not sure how compelled I am to dig really deeply, and I'm not sure how much you're meant to anyway (and it could have been unintentional because maybe things were just a mess but I don't know). Also I really loved like pretty much everyone involved which also helped me give it some passes. Burn Gorman was awesome even with the limited screentime.

I too expected the house to sink down in the clay but hey I guess you can't win 'em all.
posted by nogoodverybad at 6:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I want to read a Kate Beaton adaptation.

Also I thought it was utterly ridkculous for all the reasons mentioned above and that is why I loved it.

Asshole college kids booed it on the way out of the cinema though, so I suspect it is in for a rough time.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also suspect that Del Toro is kind of not that good with the restrained period comedy of manners stuff it led with so it only really comes fully to life when it goes full Del Toro at the end.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


"ghosts' design and how they moved were SUPER effective"
That's because the ghosts were actors--the aftereffects and all made them translucent, but the actors were there, on the set.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hell of a prosthetic job on some of them then.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


One thing that I'm pretty sure I'm misremembering is that one of the first ghosts Edith sees is missing the two fingers that she cuts on Lucille's hand. Since ghosts can travel through time (her mother warns her of Crimson Peak), I was wondering if it could be Lucille's vengeful spirit coming after her... but IDK, that's a mighty stretch.
posted by codacorolla at 7:46 PM on October 19, 2015


Aren't all the red ghosts explicitly the murder victims, because clay?
posted by Artw at 9:12 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine how it could have gotten so decayed in the 60-70 years between its construction and the ~1900 when the movie is set

IT IS CHOCKABLOCK FULL OF GHOSTIES!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The first and likely last time you will see Buffalo, NY portrayed as the warmer of two locales.

The bit where she opens the front door and can't leave because snowstorm? Took my suspension of disbelief and cracked it over my head. Ain't no way a Buffalo gal was going to be stymied by what should be an unremarkable December day to her.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:19 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where the fuck is this place anyway? I think it might be Wizarding England.
posted by Artw at 9:48 PM on October 19, 2015


There is a Conceptual Artist credit for Guy Davis, whom I first became aware of from his circa 1990 punk rock woman detective comic Baker Street (which has a major trans character) and subsequently Vertigo's Sandman Mystery Theatre. I haven't kept up with his work on Hellboy and Judge Dredd. He also did concept art / storyboarding for Pacific Rim. (Guy Davis Previously)
posted by larrybob at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, the ghosts and the house are all nicely Guy Davisy, so that makes a lot of sense.

Pacific Rim was basically earth vs. Guy Davis monsters.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]




I saw it last night and LOVED THE GHOSTS. I might be able to come back and share more later but just wanted to register GHOSTS LOVED THEM
posted by zutalors! at 2:26 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw with my sister it because I thought it was horror, and was not displeased to find it was a beautiful gothic romance. Though I think without some basic knowledge of the conventions of gothic literature, it's harder to get a grasp on -- but with it, it's beautiful and compelling.
posted by jeather at 2:41 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]




I thought it was an odd choice to spill pretty much all of the potential narrative mysteries to the audience right away. I would have found the plot more satisfying and substantial if there had been more initial uncertainty about which of the sibs (one or both or neither) was up to no good, less early telegraphing of the incest angle, and more of a question about whether or not Edith was really seeing what she was seeing (although I suppose that would have made it a different movie altogether).

It certainly was gorgeous, but I had a hard time falling under the spell of the art direction and swoony cinematography because the audience I saw the movie with found certain scenes so risible that they didn't hesitate to laugh, and the laughter was more derisive than giddy. Definitely broke whatever mood the movie was trying to evoke.
posted by merriment at 8:45 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would certainly agree that whenever it had a choice between maintaining my story and being melodramatic it went for the later, and had essentially zero reveals the audience wasn't five or six steps ahead of as a result, but to me that's part of its charm.

The Del Toro movie it reminds me of the most is Devils Backbone, which does similar things with ghosts but is so completely the opposite in terms of time and storytelling.
posted by Artw at 8:49 AM on October 22, 2015


Jessica Chastain absolutely stole every scene she was in. Divine.

The costume design and set design were Oscar-worthy, and I hope they get theirs this February.

Loved all the ghosties, too, and wanted more of them.

To me, there was no believable chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska but maybe that was part of the point of showing that Thomas was up to shenanigans. Their love scene at the post office really felt like Acting and I just didn't quite buy what they were selling. (But I am obviously grateful for the lovely T.H. booty shot, so thanks!). Relatedly, I also kept thinking back to their respective roles in Only Lovers Left Alive, and was distracted by the jarring feeling that this film really could have benefitted from having Tilda Swinton in it somehow.

WHY didn't Edith's dad tell her immediately about what his private investigator discovered? It seemed odd that he left it all up to the 2 least trustworthy people around and of course got killed. There was no need to pay them off -- just throw them out. I know, I know, the Disapproving Father getting in the way of Unrequited Love trope of gothic romance and all.

WHY didn't Dr. Alan yell "I'm an eye doctor -- look at this man, people! FOUL PLAY!" to the lawyer and everyone else at the morgue the very moment the distraught Edith left the room?

Is the "Black" Cholera that killed Edith's mother the super deadly kind of cholera as opposed to, say, garden variety Cholera-Cholera?

When Dr. Alan showed up at the Cumberland post office looking exactly like somebody out of a Western, but it turns out he was unarmed and sans posse, I honestly couldn't believe that shit.

Most importantly, what happened to the dog??!

To me, the creepiest scenes were not the ones I expected at all. Seeing the old photos of Thomas and his various murdered wives, and those of their baby, really got me. As did his costume in the scene at the park in NY where the colony of ants devoured the butterfly that Lucille gave them, and we saw Thomas with his sunglasses and costume graphically-matching those of the ants -- that was really well done.

I know I have listed more than a few criticisms here, but let it be known that I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I will see anything Mr. del Toro does.
posted by hush at 10:25 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suspect that like blood clay the Black Cholera only exists in the universe where England has no butterflies but only black moths THAT EAT BUTTERFLIES.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on October 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


distracted by the jarring feeling that this film really could have benefitted from having Tilda Swinton in it somehow

But this is true of all films.

Most importantly, what happened to the dog??!

Lucille took it and killed it off camera. There was a YAWRLP.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


No the dog was JUST FINE and went back to the US with Edith ENTIRELY ALIVE AND WELL.
posted by jeather at 11:19 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


WHY didn't Dr. Alan yell "I'm an eye doctor -- look at this man, people! FOUL PLAY!" to the lawyer and everyone else at the morgue the very moment the distraught Edith left the room?

You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know that nobody who slips on a wet floor ends up with *several different head fractures*. That was the blunt object trauma version of accidentally falling on a knife six times.

Is the "Black" Cholera that killed Edith's mother the super deadly kind of cholera as opposed to, say, garden variety Cholera-Cholera?

You know, the cholera that happens in the middle of the winter when snow is falling everywhere, instead of the hottest months of the year.
posted by sukeban at 12:27 PM on October 22, 2015


Most importantly, what happened to the dog??!

Lucille killed it while Thomas was stabbing Dr. Alan. I was VERY CHAGRINED by that bit of business.
posted by merriment at 1:31 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that Edith was most probably not a virgin when she and LSharpe got it on?
posted by zutalors! at 1:32 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Every single thing about this movie, including its telegraphed plot points, is perfect and I wish to live and die inside this movie now. That is all.
posted by Stacey at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2015 [8 favorites]




> Did anyone else notice that Edith was most probably not a virgin when she and LSharpe got it on?

Yes, it went against genre in several progressive ways, and I liked how Edith initiated the encounter and didn't waste time getting on top. I also applaud the fact that Edith was not punished for showing sexual agency, nor for not being "chaste" enough. And whereas in most films a scene like this would've been all about showing the woman's nudity to appeal to the hetero male gaze, instead they flipped the script.
posted by hush at 8:45 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, every time a man rushed in to save her, he failed utterly and got himself stabbed or killed for his trouble.
posted by zutalors! at 10:45 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yup. Stop trying to save Edith, dudes, she's got this. Unless you are her dad, and you save her only by giving her a gift that supports her own agency instead of making it about yourself, and then she gets to use that gift later to stab an attacker. That's okay.

I mean, really, the second the pen came out in that scene I was just giddy on the edge of my seat going oh my god is she going to stab someone with the pen please oh please tell me she's going to stab someone with the pen and it was amazing.
posted by Stacey at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Movie Yelling With Nicole and Mallory: Crimson Peak

Oh my God, Artw. That review made me laugh and laugh.
posted by merriment at 12:15 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


That basically had all my thoughts about this film. (Which is to say, I loved it.)
posted by ocherdraco at 7:40 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like this is the story Edith wrote, made into a film. Like the cut final scene is Ogilvie reading the story and congratulating her for adding the love story.

It's part of why I think the love story reads as clunky. Edith doesn't really know what love is so her recreation is a little awkward and not fully fleshed out.

And why she'd kill off her beloved father in a fictionalized version of her life is kind of fascinating to think about too
posted by zutalors! at 11:35 AM on October 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just want to say that the scene with the porridge was delicious in all its scraping creepiness.

Also I was delighted to see Lady Lucille HISSING at Edith near the end.
posted by cobain_angel at 7:44 AM on October 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh god that porridge scraping
posted by Windigo at 7:49 AM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, Anne of the Gables-Colored-Green would have LOVED this film.
posted by Windigo at 7:50 AM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I want to see it again without my date who kept grinning at me the whole time and then was like "shruggo it was predictable."
posted by zutalors! at 7:54 AM on October 26, 2015


The porridge scraping was another of the moments of sheer delight that this movie held for me. I'm rather glad I went alone so no one could see me grinning like an idiot the entire time.

I don't remember hissing but it sounds fabulous, so I guess I need to go see it again. OH NO WHAT A HARDSHIP.
posted by Stacey at 9:19 AM on October 26, 2015


Like a typical Del Toro film, it was full of plot holes, but it doesn't fucking matter, because the movie is gorgeous and has just enough flesh on the skeleton (hee hee) to make it work. The movie mixes and matches time periods with the clothing and architecture and it all works to craft a wonderful setting and mood.

Loved that Edith was no pushover, probably wasn't a virgin and wound up saving the dude in the end. Just too perfect. Love the house, even as my brain keep screaming "put a goddamn tarp on that hole". For some reason I missed the incest plot, despite the obvious "flowers in the attic" cue .

All the ridiculous parts kind of melted away when Tom came back to save her as ghost. Everything made wonderful sense then and I will see this movie again.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I was delighted to see Lady Lucille HISSING at Edith near the end.

I also liked her darting between various failed machines, sort of like the Alien scittering through the ventilation ducts on the Nostromo.
posted by codacorolla at 11:19 AM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw it last night and LOVED THE GHOSTS. I might be able to come back and share more later but just wanted to register GHOSTS LOVED THEM


I totally agree. Loved it the ghosts so much. And well, everything else about the film to be honest. Plot holes, anachronisms, all that stuff, didn't care about it all. The film just worked so well.
posted by Fence at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2015


>NYC meetup to see it again?
posted by zutalors! at 9:05 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, those ghosts were perfect. I loved the wafting effects.

And the movie lampshades its nature pretty early, "Not a ghost story - a story with ghosts". IO9 has a look at some of the rules of the world with regard to ghosts and what it means that the sister sees the ghost at the end.

I really enjoyed it - far more than I expected to. The bit with the siblings when we finally see them in their creepily passionate embrace is definitely one of the creepier handjobs I've seen in a movie. More disturbing than "Natural Born Killers", certainly.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:23 AM on November 6, 2015


I can't believe I noticed the dog murder and missed the handjob. Get your priorities straight, past me!
posted by merriment at 3:02 PM on November 7, 2015


I missed the offscreen dog murder and I reject it wholeheartedly. The little mutt was following them out of the mansion, just out of camera range. I'm sure of it.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:57 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to Gothic Romance: The director, producer, and screenwriter lists the Gothic romances that influenced him and his new film, Crimson Peak.
posted by sukeban at 1:55 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I finally got around to seeing this only two months late and I just want to note for posterity that this was the best movie. Just, the best.

There were maybe... five minutes? if you took all of the moments of the movie that didn't fill me with childlike delight, and strung them together? maybe about five minutes of those. Otherwise, just... delicious and perfect. So much fun.

I want to make everyone I know watch this movie just so, at some unspecified later date, I can stare dispassionately at them while I sccccrrraaapppppeee a spoon against the rim of a bowl of porridge.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:08 PM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The DVD/bluray comes out next week and here are some tidbits from the bluray commentary.
posted by sparkletone at 8:36 PM on February 5, 2016


I just watched this thing this morning, and loved all the parts y'all did, but what was the deal with the ring?
Like, yeah, it's Mother's ring, and yeah, it hurts Edith's finger when Lucille yanks it off, but what was the stuff about "use the ring" about?
Like, what did they use it for, other than to marry Edith? Was the ring that was so lovingly presented as being a Creepy Evil Magic Ring just a red (heh) herring? It almost felt like a whole Evil Ring subplot was cut out, but all the spooky foreshadowing was left in.
Or is it just a trope of the genre to make everything sound as ominous as possible, for like misdirection, so that you don't know where the gutpunch is going to come from?

and I, too, didn't notice the handjob
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:47 AM on March 11, 2016


Finally got to see it with a talk by Del Toro afterwards and loved it but loved hearing him talk about it even more. Now I wish that he could get his Frankenstein film financed.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


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