WARNING : This post contains spoilers for the movie Crimson Peak throughout.
Against All Warnings
Crimson Peak finally came to the Redbox and I was able to scoop it up yesterday for a view, against all warnings from friends who had seen it already. Underwhelmed. That is the word people use when they expect so much better than what they have received. That describes my feelings for this movie. So what went wrong? Well, a few things here and there that actually wouldn't have been too hard to overcome, but the ending put the final nails in the coffin for Crimson Peak - and it could have been SOOOO much better.
The Basic Premise of Crimson Peak
In the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to our main protagonist, Edith Cushing (played by Mia Wasikowska), as a writer who is having trouble finding a publisher for her ghost story. She comes off as a strong-willed, creative type who will not allow the way society views women to keep her from achieving her goals.
Edith is courted by Thomas Sharpe (played by Tom Hiddleston), a British entrepreneur seeking financing in America for his latest invention. The two develop an affinity for each other fairly quickly. Edith's father, Carter Cushing (played by Jim Beaver), disapproves of his daughter's interest in Thomas and bribes Thomas to break Edith's heart and leave town. This leads to Carter's violent murder. And this is also when Edith's character, as we know her, goes out the window completely.
How Crimson Peak Ended
After her father's death, Edith throws herself into her relationship with Thomas and things move pretty quickly. She marries him and decides to move to England and live in his family home with Thomas and his sister, Lucille (played by Jessica Chastain). Once there, she begins to receive all kinds of signals telling her to leave - everything from ghosts to the actions of Thomas and Lucille raise red flags left and right. Still, Thomas seems to actually care for Edith, despite what his initial intentions for her were.
Simultaneously, back home, Edith's lifelong friend Dr. Alan McMichael (played by Charlie Hunnam) suspects something is amiss and leaves for England to check in on Edith, whom he had romantic feelings for, and finds that she is the victim of an elaborate scheme to kill her and take her money (basically). There is a series of confrontations and some violence and the movie ends.
How Crimson Peak SHOULD Have Ended
We should have been watching Edith's novel play out as opposed to watching her real life - her character starts off as an aspiring writer, but that part of her personality is thrown out the window halfway through the movie. So why should we have been watching her story instead of her life? Well, for starters, we could excuse the piss-poor quality of the ghosts (seriously Del Toro, there is no reason the ghosts looked that bad up close). In a movie that made it a point to be visually striking, there is really no reason for the ghosts to look that bad.
The main reason we should have been watching her novel as opposed to her life is that Edith's character shift would have been more tolerable. The fact that she starts off as a strong female character in the late 19th century, determined to break social barriers with her novel, and then ends up a subservient wife to Thomas, rushing headlong into life in England is upsetting and cannot be overlooked. Such a strong-willed character (as Edith first appears to us) would not have stayed in that house so long after receiving otherworldly warnings.
Beyond that, the end was mundane. McMichaels shows up unannounced just in time to save Edith's life, when Edith is the character who should have shown more initiative in saving it herself. We have a series of violent conflicts and some stabbing, but otherwise a very straightforward ending - where an ending with a bit more of a twist would have been a better way to close the story.
Matt is a writer/filmmaker in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Follow me on Twitter @Matt_InTheWoods