One thing I keep saying is that I’m not a fan of horror films. This isn’t entirely true, because some of the best films I’ve seen are horror. The problem is, I just hate being scared (and I scare easily). But there are some movies I just desperately need to see and I push my worry of nightmares ,and sleeping with the lights on, aside. One of these was Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, which my friend (another self-proclaimed scaredy cat) and I vowed to watch together. During the day. We finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago. I only decided this week to do a post on the film, though, and thought publishing it on Friday the 13th might be fitting.
I think this will be more a look at the visual aspects of the film that I loved, as I reacted to it more on that level. While I agree with many others that the plot was predictable and the story itself didn’t have much meat to it, I honestly wasn’t bothered. I often like predictable. The mood and atmosphere were more important for me in this and it fit with the Gothic horror/romance throwback del Toro was going for. It made me think particularly of Rebecca and Jane Eyre. (Granted, both are more substantial story-wise, but the influences are obviously there).
I have a thing for lighting and the lighting in this made me want to cry it was so perfect (or, at least, perfect for my own aesthetic taste). I especially loved the scenes where yellow/orange and green light were used together (like the first image of Jessica Chastain at the top of this post and the one below). But the image directly above, with more subtle lighting, is lovely too.
The entire design of this film is exquisite, especially the costumes (I’m planning on doing a post on the costume designer, Kate Hawley, for my Designer Spotlight series). They made me want to wear mutton sleeves and crimp my hair but I think I’d end up looking more ’80s tragic than Victorian tragedy.
Some of my favourite costumes (I’ll save the rest for that post on Kate Hawley):
And some of my favourite interior shots:
The set design is so important in this film and Allerdale Hall is a character in its own right, guiding the atmosphere of the second half of the film. From the red clay that seeps up through the soil, to the roof caving in, letting in light and leaves and snow, to the cluttered, dusty rooms it screams ‘Sinister!’ With its decay and bleak surroundings, it is almost the ultimate Gothic horror mansion. I’m not necessarily a sucker for haunted house stories (I’m not keen on ghosts) but I love stories set in creepy, remote mansions.
I hadn’t read much of del Toro’s influences for Crimson Peak before watching it (though following him on twitter I got an idea) so I was glad when I read this and saw that Rebecca and Bava’s films were influences as I had felt they were while watching this.
Jessica Chastain really stole the movie for me. She was phenomenal – I love the way she carried herself and the design of her character. I love how Lucille slowly unfolds as a character throughout the film. She definitely had some of my favourite costumes, too. Mia Wasikowska was fantastic as well, and Edith’s costumes are more obviously impressive than Lucille’s. I’m looking forward to writing all about the costumes of this film one day.
I need to watch this again for a number of reasons, one of which is that there’s so much going on visually that it’s hard to think about it all on first viewing. Looking at these screencaps I’m already noticing a lot that I missed on first viewing but it undeniably left a deep impression on me. I should really watch more of Del Toro’s films.