It is important to note that “Crimson Peak” is not — repeat NOT — about Alabama football. I know the word “Crimson” gets people excited, but this is a sumptuous, blood-soaked gothic film from Spanish filmmaker and master visual stylist Guillermo del Toro. It stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, none of whom play any sport, even once, in the film. Unless stabbing counts.
Wasikowska plays Edith Cushing, an American heiress who was once visited by the ghost of her dead mother, who warned her to beware the “crimson peak.” An aspiring writer of horror stories, Edith remains sensitive to signals from otherworldly beings.
Sensible and intelligent, she nevertheless falls under the spell of Sir Thomas Sharpe, a penniless English aristocrat desperate to raise funds for an invention that will save his family estate, a contraption that mines the valuable muddy ore that oozes beneath, and throughout, his decrepit mansion. You’ll never guess what color this substance is.
After failing to convince Edith’s industrialist father to invest in his invention, Thomas applies his charms on the daughter, and after an incident gets the father out of the way, Edith is swept into Sharpe’s twisted world, in which his severe and frightening sister (Jessica Chastain) looms large.
There are few surprises in this film; rather, it is a beautiful pastiche of influences, from Gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock. To recognize and appreciate the borrowed elements only heightens the experience. Sometimes films take classic tropes and turn them upside down, but this one is strictly by the books. The performances are perfectly over the top; it’s just too bad Vincent Price couldn’t be in it. Above all, the production design is magnificent.
Leaves, rain and snow flutter continuously through a gigantic hole in the roof of the mansion, ghosts seems to swim through the air and the costumes are sublime. Edith walking through the halls in flowing white nightgown holding a huge candelabra really tells you everything you need to know about this film: it is the classic florid, over-the-top ghost story, and if you find yourself thinking you know what’s coming next, you’re probably right. The element of surprise might not be strong in this story, but the elements of style are in full force.
“Crimson Peak” is currently available to rent.
The Exploreum IMAX Summer Film Celebration is the perfect escape from afternoon heat. Immerse yourself in the IMAX experience with a different film from their library every week. It’s also a great deal: adult tickets cost only $8.75 and kids’ tickets are $5 to $7.25, depending on child’s age.
June 15 & 18, 2 p.m. — “Mysteries of the Unseen World”
June 22 & 25, 2 p.m. — “Living In the Age of Airplanes”
June 29 & July 2, 2 p.m. — “Tornado Alley”
July 6 & 9, 2 p.m. — “To the Arctic”
July 13 & 16, 2 p.m. — “Greece”
July 20 & 23, 2 p.m. — “Dolphins”
July 27 & 30, 2 p.m. — “Everest”
August 3 & 6, 2 p.m. — “Space Junk”
Call 251-208-6893 or visit www.exploreum.com for more information.