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Crimson Peak

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“Ghosts are real” insists heroine Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) in the opening voiceover of Guillermo Del Toro’s spine-tingling Crimson Peak. The viewer of this simmering gothic romance has little trouble believing Edith’s assertion, as ghosts appear in such crawlingly tactile form that you may check there are no cold fingers touching you. Nor are these apparitions out of place, as Kate Hawley’s sumptuous costumes and Thomas E. Sanders’ lustrous production design immediately draw the viewer into an evocative supernatural world. Playing as an unabashed haunted house story, Crimson Peak unfolds with confidence and cunning, as Edith finds life with her new husband Sir Thomas Steele (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) to be far from comforting. Del Toro rewards expectations by playing to the genre, utilizing his love for ghosts and monsters and sharing these with the viewer. Along the way there are moments of brutal violence and sinister motives, as well as tensions around modernity and tradition, gender, nationality and class. The result is a heady and potent mix, lovingly rendered and gorgeously presented in another triumph for this distinctive auteur.

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