I recently had the pleasure of watching the American gothic romance film, Crimson Peak.
In Buffalo, New York, 1887, Edith Cushing, the young daughter of wealthy American businessman Carter Cushing, is visited by her mother’s ghost who warns her, “Beware of Crimson Peak.”
Fourteen years later, Edith, a budding author, meets Sir Thomas Sharpe, an English baronet who has come to the United States with his sister, Lucille, to seek investors for his clay-mining invention. Unimpressed with Sharpe’s previous failures to raise capital, Cushing rejects Thomas’s proposal. Edith’s mother’s spirit once again visits her, bearing the same warning.
When Thomas and Edith become romantically involved, her father and Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael, disapprove. Mr. Cushing hires a private detective who uncovers unsavory facts about the Sharpes. Mr. Cushing bribes the siblings to have Thomas end his and Edith’s relationship. Thomas however sends Edith a note explaining his actions. After Mr. Cushing is brutally murdered, Edith and Thomas marry and return to England. They arrive at Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes’ dilapidated mansion, which sits atop a red clay mine. Edith finds that Lucille is cold while Thomas is physically distant, leaving her confused.
Gruesome ghosts begin appearing to Edith throughout the mansion. To calm her, Thomas takes her into town. After being snowed in for the night, they finally consummate their marriage. Lucille angrily lashes out after their return, frightening Edith. By the time Thomas mentions that the estate is referred to as “Crimson Peak,” due to the warm red clay seeping up through the snow, Edith is growing weak and coughing up blood.
Edith explores the mansion and pieces clues together, discovering that Thomas previously married three wealthy women who were fatally poisoned for their inheritances. She realizes she, too, is being poisoned through tea, and that the siblings have had a long-term incestuous relationship, resulting in a sickly infant who was killed by Lucille. Lucille also murdered their mother after she had discovered her children’s incest. Thomas inherited the family manor that, like many aristocratic estates of the era, is no longer profitable; the Sharpes are virtually penniless. The brother and sister began the “marriage and murder” scheme to support themselves and fund Thomas’s inventions.
Back in the United States, Alan learns what Mr. Cushing had uncovered about the Sharpes: Thomas’s multiple marriages and Lucille’s time in a mental institution. He travels to Allerdale Hall to rescue Edith. Lucille demands that Thomas kill him; Thomas, who has fallen in love with Edith and wants to protect her, inflicts a non-fatal stab wound to Alan before hiding him.
Lucille forces Edith to sign a transfer deed granting the Sharpes ownership of her estate and also confesses that she was the one who murdered Edith’s father. Edith stabs Lucille and tries to flee. Thomas promises to help her and Alan escape. Lucille, jealous over Thomas falling in love with Edith, murders him, then pursues Edith. Aided by Thomas’ ghost, Edith kills Lucille with a shovel. Edith and Alan are rescued, and Lucille’s ghost haunts Allerdale. The end credits imply that Edith has written a novel titled Crimson Peak based on her experiences.
It was a very interesting film, which used great editing and a terrific score to underly the sinister aspects that it held within the overall plot. The acting was strong from all involved, though particular kudos must go to Jim Beaver and Tom Hiddleston for their standout offerings. It’s a film I’d recommend to those fans of a creepy romance.
Thanks for reading.