tek's rating: ½

Crimson Peak (R)
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review sites: Black List; Bloody Disgusting; Dread Central (Blu-ray/DVD); Modern Horrors
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro. This came out in 2015, but I didn't see it until 2023. I really like the visual effects of the ghosts in this movie, and find them scary-looking, but they're not the primary horror part of the movie. Wikipedia mentions years in which the story takes place, though I never saw any indication of that in the movie. It says the first scene is set in 1887 and the rest in 1901, but the only thing I ever saw mentioned on screen was that 14 years passed between scenes.

It begins with the main character, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), narrating about ghosts, and how she first saw one when she was a child, after her mother died. Her mother's (very creepy) ghost warns her to beware of Crimson Peak. In the narration, Edith says she wouldn't understand the warning until it was too late. After that, the movie flashes forward to when Edith is a young woman and aspiring author. An impoverished English baronet named Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) comes to America with his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), seeking financing to build a machine he has invented to dig for clay on their estate back in England. Edith's father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), speaks for a group of potential investors and rejects Thomas's pitch. Meanwhile, Lucille seems to be trying to arrange a romantic pairing between Thomas and some rich woman, but he ignores her efforts and instead sets his heart on Edith. Carter bribes Thomas and Lucille to leave town and break Edith's heart, but then someone murders Carter (we don't find out who until near the end of the movie, but it's not really surprising). Edith marries Thomas, and they return to his and Lucille's home in England, Allerdale Hall. The place was obviously once quite grand, but has fallen into disrepair and is slowly sinking into the clay beds below the ground.

Well, of course Edith soon starts seeing terrifying ghosts in her new home, which freaks her out and makes her want to leave. (Though I don't know why she would feel any safer anywhere else, considering she'd seen a ghost a couple of times before in her old house, too.) But she can't leave because they get snowed in. She also begins to uncover a mystery about both the death of Thomas and Lucille's mother, and the fact that Thomas had been married before, a few times. And she becomes ill and starts coughing up blood, for a reason I won't spoil, but it's not at all surprising. And she eventually learns a particularly disturbing truth about Thomas and Lucille, which again, I won't spoil but I didn't find surprising. It's also unsurprising that Edith eventually learns that the Sharpes' estate is nicknamed "Crimson Peak" because of the red clay that seeps through the ground and stains the snow in winter. Meanwhile, Edith's old friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), grows suspicious of the Sharpes and goes to England to take Edith away. But I kind of felt like that part of the plot and that character were unnecessary.

I feel like I've said pretty much enough about the plot. I think the movie has great visuals, including the ghosts (who looked completely CGI to me, though they were played by a couple of actors, including Doug Jones). And the clay, and the house with snow always falling into it though the broken ceiling, and... I don't, just everything about the movie was very atmospheric. Honestly, the visuals were quite possibly the best part of the movie. But the story was decent, too. It's not something I'm likely to want to watch a second time, but I'm definitely glad to have seen it once.

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