Review: Crimson Peak, A Gorgeous Gothic Romance

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This sumptuous Gothic romance is an absolute must for fans of Del Toro’s work and newbies alike. A fantastic addition to well established novels and films in this genre, Crimson Peak explores themes of femininity in the Victorian Era, breathing new life into tropes like The Mad Woman in the Attic and the brooding byronic hero.

Mia Wasikowska of Alice in Wonderland fame is perfectly cast as the innocent Edith but, much like Burton’s Alice, Edith does not flop in the role of victim. Instead she is a forward thinking writer trying to publish her work in a male dominated era and profession.

This makes a wonderful change from Victorian Gothic’s tendency to have heroines who adore reading literature, but do not create it themselves. This trope even prevails today in YA Literature set in the Victorian era, with characters like Bella from Twilight and Tessa in Cassandra Clare’s infernal devices. Edith however is a woman with a creative, questing mind, ready to forge her own way into womanhood.

When tragedy strikes her life she follows her heart and moves to the imposing Allerdale Hall. A broken down Gothic mansion in dire need of a renovation. The alluring brother and sister duo enfold Edith into their bizarre lives. The cinematography is quintessential Del Toro, dark passageways, and dank underground basements hiding devastating secrets.

The ghosts of women scorned, or worse, lurking in the shadows, crooked-backed and skinned to their bloody red innards. As the title suggests there is red aplenty, blood taking on the significance it does in Pan’s Labyrinth. Blood is a woman’s lot, bringing with it a stunning lack of choice, abuse at the hands of brutal husbands, child birth and child loss, the horrors of adulthood.

It is certainly no surprise then that Edith’s final step into adult life is to lose her virginity. Del Toro again turns the trope of the virgin who survives the horror movie because of her supposed purity. While it is this act that unleashes hell in Allerdale Hall, prepare to see that it is not only men capable of murder and cruelty.

Prepare to be swept away by this lavish adventure, to fall in love with the enigmatic Thomas Sharpe and his mysterious sister Lucille, and explore their jaded mansion and twisted past.