As we’re stuck indoors, I felt it a good time to go back and examine some films I hadn’t watched in a while. One in particular caught my attention for a number of reasons. The protagonist becomes trapped indoors and begins coughing up blood, and there’s talk of sickness and poverty. No, it’s not a pandemic movie at all. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most underrated movies of the decade, Crimson Peak.
Guillermo del Toro has been one of my favorite filmmakers for years, but the first time I actually got to see one of his movies on the big screen was when this gothic horror movie was released. In the front row, I was amazed at how much rich detail was in every frame and surprised at how the trailers had completely misled the viewer. Oh, there were scares and quite a bit of blood, to be sure, but del Toro isn’t simply content to make one jump. He’s more concerned with what he calls “eye protein,” which really translates to a visual feast well worth the price of a ticket.
As the film opens, we’re introduced to our young heroine named Edith (Mia Wasikowska ) who pushes aside thoughts of love until a mysterious Englishman named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) arrives with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) to secure funding for a machine he’s invented. Of course, her father objects but love is love. With a beautiful score by Fernando Veláquez echoing in the background, the pair begin to fall for one another and eventually marry and move from the U.S. to his ancient English manor.
To say this film was overlooked is an understatement. The production design and costumes are some of the best I’ve ever seen and the fact that neither was nominated for an Oscar is a disgrace to the industry. With faded wallpapers, a collapsing roof, and foreboding halls, Sharpe manor is a house that we all know will be haunted. The ghosts aren’t simply there to scare, but rather to add to the story. But more than that, this was a sweeping love story with a mystery that we, as an audience, may already know. The same could be said of many Jane Austen books. Once you’ve seen who the killer is in a Scream movie, does the fun of that movie diminish? Not to me because there’s more to it than that.
And with Edith, we have a young heroine who, unlike many romance novels, ends up saving herself and figuring out the mysteries. There’s an innocence and naivety to her that doesn’t make her dim-witted, but just gives her character room to grow as the film progresses. The movie doesn’t say that a woman can’t fall in love, but rather that it’s not all that she is meant to do. Simple enough for some to understand today, but sadly still a relevant issue. She and Lucille have a frosty relationship to say the least, and with a few cat-and-mouse moments, Chastain really plays a fine line between crazy and vulnerable.
So, if you’re trapped inside and have been wanting to check a film out, this is one of my recommendations. There’s some extremely violent moments and a bit of nudity, but this is a movie that’s both pleasing to the senses and to my heart. Stay safe, everyone.
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