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Film / Crimson Peak

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"Ghosts are real. That much I know. I've seen them all my life..."
Edith Cushing

Crimson Peak is another approach of Guillermo del Toro to ghost stories, released in October 2015. It is - in his own words - a classic gothic horror romance with a modern take. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam.

The year is 1901 and Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is a young writer with a troubled past, who marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves to his mansion home, Allerdale Hall, in Cumbria where he resides with his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). But (par for the course with a del Toro film) Edith discovers that Sir Thomas is not what he appears to be...

The first official trailer can be watched here. The second one is here, and another variation of it here.


"Tropes are real. I've seen them all my life..."

  • Alas, Poor Villain: By the end, Thomas and Lucille are given this trope. They were both greedy Serial Killers but their deaths are treated sympathetically, with Thomas being stabbed multiple times by Lucille, turning into a spirit and being given a non-verbal goodbye to Edith while Lucille turning into an emotional wreck and becoming one of the many ghosts that haunt Allerdale Hall.
  • All There in the Manual: The artbook in particular includes truncated versions of character backstories that Guillermo del Torro wrote out and gave to the actors. The originals were apparently much much longer.
  • Anti-Villain: Thomas is complicit in multiple murders, but is ultimately revealed to be a deeply tragic character shaped by his traumatic experiences at the hands of his Abusive Parents and an incestuous relationship with his equally abusive sister.
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  • Apocalyptic Log: Edith finds one with the recordings of the three previous wives who were killed by Lucille. They spill the beans on everything about the Sharpes, from their methods of killing them (poison in the tea) to their motivations (stealing money from the wives so that they can rebuild their fortune and Thomas can make his inventions). Thomas even goes into detail of how he disposed of one of the women with an Ironic Nursery Tune.
  • Arc Symbol: Pretty Butterflies and the Macabre Moth Motif are a re-occurring symbol throughout (right down to the dog, a Papillon). Del Toro himself referenced this while guiding people through the Comic Con display.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Of the hand-maiming variety, when Lucille grabs the blade of Edith's kitchen knife.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The film's leads get what they want by the end, though not in the way they anticipated.
    • Edith gets new material for her book, though almost at the cost of losing her life.
    • Thomas finally gets to leave Allerdale Hall, but only as a spirit.
    • Lucille never wants to leave her home and at the end, she gets exactly that, as one of many ghosts that haunt the house.
  • Betty and Veronica: Alan is the Betty, whilst Thomas Sharpe is the Veronica, for Edith. As it turns out, Edith Cushing is the Betty and Lady Lucille Sharpe is the Veronica for Thomas.
  • Big Bad: At first, Lucille works together with her brother Thomas to eventually kill Edith, but after he pulls a Heel–Face Turn, she's the sole major villain.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Edith and Thomas's first kiss.
  • Big Fancy House: Allerdale Hall is enormous and still opulent, if more than a tad decrepit.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Sharpe siblings, their abusive father who beat them and squandered the family fortune, their equally abusive mother who confined them to the attic, their inbred baby...
  • Bittersweet Ending: Edith and Alan survive their experiences at Allerdale Hall and manage to get away, the village now has the Clay Extractor for the brickworks to hopefully bring them prosperity, and Thomas has apparently redeemed himself and can move on to whatever comes after death. But - if we're going with the standard del Toro view on the afterlife in his films - Lucille and her victims are probably trapped as ghosts forever, just as miserable and despairing in death as they were in life. Though Edith's narration at the end implies that with the violent murders that tied the ghosts to the mansion now being discovered and the murderers killed, it's possible the other ghosts were able to move on, while Lucille will be trapped there forever.
  • The Bluebeard: Thomas has been married three times already and none of his wives lasted that long, although Lucille's the one who actually poisoned them. Unlike most Bluebeard stories, Thomas actually falls for his latest wife.
  • Blue and Orange Contrast: On the official movie poster.
  • Bond One-Liner: Edith delivers a sarcastic quip after killing Lucille in the climax.
    "I heard you the first time."
  • Break the Cutie: Edith does not have the best luck. First her mother dies, then she has her book be rejected with each person telling her she should write about love instead of ghost stories, then her father dies quite brutally, and then it's revealed her new husband (mainly his sister) have been using her for her money and are actually in an incestuous relationship, all while being able to see ghosts at the same time. She even has her new dog killed while at it! Thankfully better by the end of it, even if it is a bit bittersweet.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Edith notices how unusually close her new husband is with his sister. Lucille is a spinster and lives with him in the house and the two always travel together. Edith starts to suspect they're actually husband and wife pretending to be siblings. They're actually incestuous siblings, and they murdered their mother after they were discovered.
  • Byronic Hero: Thomas, right down to the incest.
  • Central Theme: Love. According to the filmmakers, movie is at its heart about characters who are trying to find love, or at least love as they understand it. (Possessive love, unselfish love, love that binds pain, love that brings joy... Parental love, sibling love, romantic love, and so on. All the drama and horror elements spring from it.)
  • Chekhov's Gun: Many. Edith's pen, the meat cleaver, the ring, the pile of snow in the atrium, the mine shaft...
    • Averted with Thomas's earth-mover machine. Despite plenty of build-up, including Thomas injuring himself on a gear, it's activated during Lucille's hunt for Edith but neither of the two are caught or wounded by it.
  • Clockwork Creature/Creepy Doll: The fortune teller toy Thomas and Edith play with.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The ghosts seen in the film are all either coloured black, white or red. The black ghosts are clinging to some emotional drive that keeps them on Earth(Edith's mother wants to warn her daughter about Crimson Peak and Lucille is terrified of leaving her house); the red ghosts died violently and still show signs of how they were murdered, and the one white ghost seen in the film (Thomas) is about to move onto the afterlife. This reflects the outfits the three main characters wear: Thomas wears black because he's trapped by the house and the Sharpe family name and a sense of duty, Lucille wears red because she's a violent murderess, and Edith wears white because she's a modern girl who wants to move forward with her life and society.
  • Costume Porn: All the dresses, including Lucille's worn and outdated one and Edith's nightgown, and the men in turn of the century white tie for a ball.
  • Creepy Children Singing: In the very beginning of the film, when the producing companies' logos are being shown, the voice of a girl singing can be heard. Halfway through the movie, it is revealed that the song is a lullaby Lucille used to sing to Thomas when they were little. The creepiness does not end there, though. It really hits the fan in the third act when Lucille sings the song to Thomas when they're about to have sex. Yup.
  • Dance of Romance: Thomas indicates that he's switched his attentions from Eunice to Edith by choosing her as the "perfect" partner for a demonstration of the waltz.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: All of the main characters except for Dr. McMichael. See Dysfunction Junction.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is a love letter to Victorian Gothic Romances, but while any sex and violence in those stories were strictly subtext or off-screen, in this film they're much more explicit. Also, while the standard Tall, Dark, and Handsome Byronic Hero usually turns out to be innocent of slanderous accusations, in this movie he is very much guilty of the crimes he's accused of.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The various ghosts that appear in the movie don't actually intend to harm Edith; they're merely warning her of a living threat.
  • Dark Secret: It's strongly indicated the Sharpe siblings are hiding several and upon moving into Allerdale Hall, Edith begins trying to uncover them.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Carter, Edith's father, dislikes Thomas from their first meeting; especially in regards to him flirting with his daughter. After hiring a private investigator to look into Thomas' past, he pays the Sharpe siblings off to never come back and have Thomas break Edith's heart. Thomas later explains in a letter to Edith that Carter did so because he didn't approve of the siblings being Impoverished Patricians. In reality, Carter did it because he found out that they were implicated in murdering their mother and that Thomas had already been married three times.
  • Death and the Maiden: Thomas and Edith, respectively, are evocative of this. Thomas is an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, tends to wear all-black, lives in a dreary and decaying mansion where many people have died and his character poster includes a skull not to mention he's an accomplice in several murders. Edith's Animal Motif is the butterfly and she's a beautiful and spirited young woman, associated with life and flowers and such, and often wears a slightly translucent white nightgown. Thomas initially helps poison Edith to steal her inheritance, but genuinely falls in love with her and saves her life, though he dies in the process, with Edith bidding his ghost farewell.
  • Deathly Dies Irae: A soft echoing use of Dies Irae, Dies Illa, which was originally a funeral requiem, plays in Fernando Velazquez's score beneath Edith discussing her mother's funeral.
  • Destructive Romance: Thomas and Lucille Sharpe, given that they're in an incestuous sibling relationship. Though it clearly brings out the worst in both of them (Thomas' Blue Beard schemes are to make her happy; her murderous jealousy against his wives), and ultimately kills them both.
  • Determinator:
    • Edith, poisoned, sporting an injured leg and an assortment of other injuries, still has enough energy to stab Lucille by surprise, support Alan, outrun Lucille for a bit more and later kill her all during a snowstorm.
    • Alan walks four hours under heavy snow and still has enough energy to tend to Edith, get stabbed twice and still leave the house walking.
    • In the climax, Lucille keeps attacking Edith even after sustaining several serious injuries (including being hit over the head with a shovel), saying "I won't stop until I kill you or you kill me." Edith responds by striking her a second time, putting her down for good.
  • Dysfunction Junction:
    • Thomas and Lucille were confined to their nursery as children, hinting at a more tragic (and perhaps terrifying) back story.
    • Edith lost her mother as a child and was haunted by her ghost.
  • The Edwardian Era: The main part of the story is set in 1901, the very beginning of the Edwardian era, though an early scene is set during Edith's childhood in the Victorian era.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Sharpe siblings' pale skin and dark hair add to their slightly unsettling appearance.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lucille has a moment of apparent pity in the park scene, when she urges Thomas to reconsider wooing Edith on the grounds that she is "too young ... just a child". However, it is very likely this is just feigned, and she is more concerned that Thomas is genuinely attracted to this particular "target".
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Edith's pet Papillon dog starts barking as soon as the creepy stuff commences.
  • Evil Is Hammy: In the beginning of the movie, Lucille is pretty restrained in her nature. But once certain secrets and plot twists start hitting the fan in the third act, she becomes a hysterical, screaming mad woman.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Subverted. Edith tries to leave the manor in the middle of a blizzard in only her nightgown. She passes out before she can, and when Alan tries to get them out, he has to stop to find her a coat. When they finally leave, they're bundled up.
  • Facial Horror:
    • As shown on the poster, one of the ghosts Edith encounters has had its eyes and forehead bashed in.
    • Edith's father, Carter, has his face smashed into a sink repeatedly by Lucille until the sink breaks and his skull caves in. When Edith is asked to identify him in the morgue, his face has swollen to the point of unrecognizability.
    • Lucille stabs Thomas with a knife straight through one of his cheeks. Thomas can be seen fidgeting to take the knife out, and when he succeeds, we are left with a brief shot of his gaping wound. The emphasis on his cheek wound is emphasized all the more when he comes back as a ghost.
  • Fauxshadow:
    • Just after Carter is shown shaving himself in the bathroom and notices that he is not alone, the camera ominously lingers on his razor. While he is indeed murdered shortly afterwards, it's not by having his throat cut, but by blunt force trauma to the head.
    • The film repeatedly draws attention to the fact that the ground beneath Allerdale Hall is unstable, causing the house to sink deeper with every year. This seems to suggest that the building will collapse over the course of the story, but nothing of the sort ever happens.
  • Fingore:
    • One of the ghosts is noticeably missing a ring finger where Lucille hacked it off.
    • Edith uses a kitchen knife to slash at Lucille's fingers in the final chase scene. Lucille later grabs Edith's knife by the blade, resulting in a lot of blood.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Every conversation about Edith's Book directly references the story itself. "It's not a ghost story, it's a story with a ghost, the ghost is a metaphor for the past" being the most telling. Her mention that characters will sometimes change in ways she didn't expect, as if on their own, also foreshadows that Thomas will have a Heel–Face Turn and help her.
    • Edith's remark that she'd rather be like Mary Shelley than Jane Austen because the former "died a widow" is doubly ironic: First, because Edith herself is a widow by the end of the film, and secondly, because Mary Shelley's husband, Percy Shelley, had a fascination with incest, represented in such luridly Gothic major works as "Laon and Cythna" and "The Cenci".
    • Edith and Alan discuss the Sherlock Holmes novel on his bookshelf, and Alan compares himself to Arthur Conan Doyle. Later, Alan does some detective work of his own.
    • When Edith stirs Thomas's feelings with a tender and passionate speech, he says in wonderment that she's so different. When she asks "Different to who?" he nervously covers up his slip by saying "To everyone." He means that as a modern Spirited Young Lady, she's so different to the European aristocrats he's married in the past. It's also highly likely he's referring to Lucille as well, as Edith is pretty much the opposite of Lucille in every way.
  • Forgiveness: Edith learns the Awful Truth about Thomas Sharpe and the horrible things he's done, but according to Word of God she still loves and ultimately forgives him.
  • Freudian Excuse: After their violent childhood, loss of the entire family fortune, murder of their parents, being sent to a 19th century asylum in Lucille's case (which, back then, included horrifying treatment) and then being forced to live in a decaying and rotting old house, it's no wonder Lucille and Thomas turned out the way they did.
  • Freudian Trio: Edith is the superego (saintly, romantic, Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold), Thomas is the ego (party to incest and murder), while Lucille is the id, being murderous, violent, unhinged, and encouraging an incestuous relationship with her brother.)
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Sir Thomas builds mechanical toys in his spare time and designed a complex excavator completely on his own.
  • Gaslighting: The Sharpes (more so Lucille) employ a bit of this on Edith. They seem to play off her hearing things in the house and seeing ghosts as her simply feeling unwell (which they’re causing by poisoning her), not being used to the house and grieving for her father, who recently died unexpectedly. She figures out pretty quickly what’s actually going on though, and she knows she isn’t crazy when it comes to the ghosts due to have seen them since she was a child.
  • Genius Loci: In one of the trailers, Thomas says the following: "A house as old as this one becomes, in time, a living thing. It starts holding onto things. Some of them good, some are bad. Some should never be spoken about again." Subverted in the film, the house is normal, the sounds and its "blood" have mundane explanations. Although it is haunted by the ghosts of the people the siblings killed. The quote was from a deleted scene where Thomas reads an excerpt from Edith's book.
  • Genre Throwback: To Classic literary Gothic Horror.
  • Ghostly Goals: The spirits' motivations are for Edith to uncover their murders and to leave the house as quickly as possible before she becomes another victim.
  • Ghost Story: It's implied that they are the ghosts of people who have suffered violent deaths at Crimson Peak.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Lucille has two subtle facial scars; both are close to classical antihero scars, two clean lines above her eyebrow and near her lip. These scars were likely incurred through brutal childhood abuse.
  • Gorn: Carter Cushing's death is this, with his head getting smashed against a sink with heavy amounts of blood coming out of his skull.
    • Thomas struggling to pull the knife out of his face.
  • Gothic Horror: Grand but rather creepy ancestral house in a beautiful but rather creepy landscape? Check. Victorian-ish time period? Check. Romance with unsettling undertones? Check. Ghosts? Check. This is a love letter to classic Gothic literature.
  • Haunted Heroine: Edith. Apparently she has been able to see ghosts since childhood and she tries to communicate with one and succeeds.
  • Haunted House: "Crimson Peak" (officially named Allerdale Hall), the titular manor house, is haunted by the ghosts of numerous people who found a violent death there.
  • * Horrible Judge of Character: While Carter Cushing is quite correct in his intuition that Thomas Sharpe is not to be trusted, he is far wide of the mark in deeming the psychopathically insane Lucille to be the "more collected one".
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Edith outside in the snow, bloodstained. The rest of the film shows us how she comes to be there.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Lucille tells Edith that she won't stop until one of them kills the other.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: During the credits, the film's title is shown on a book written by Edith, possibly implying this trope.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Lucille shows Edith a sexually explicit illustration on the side of a book (implied to be the Kama Sutra) — after which Edith indicates she's still a virgin. And Lucille knows this already.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Lucille impulsively murders Thomas after she learns he's truly fallen in love with Edith.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Lucille orders Thomas to kill Alan because she's usually the one who takes care of the murders. He appears to go through with it...but it soon turns out he stabbed Alan in a non-fatal place and is planning on rescuing him and Edith from Lucille.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Though they hob nob with the upper class, in reality the Sharpe siblings have fallen on hard times. Thomas is trying to make a machine that can mine the red clay deposit beneath his ancestral lands and it's also the reason they came up with the Evil Plan to have Thomas marry wealthy young women, then bump them off to take their money.
  • Instant Sedation: Inverted. Despite being "heavily sedated" and on a broken leg, Edith is able to move quickly and think unimpeded during the final act. Since Alan knew that the Sharpes were trying to kill Edith, may have merely pretended to sedate her so that she would be lucid enough to leave with him.
  • Irony : Lucille never wants to leave Allerdale Hall. At the end of the film she's become one of its many ghosts, presumably trapped there forever.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: It's raining heavily during Carter's funeral.
  • Kick the Dog: Averted, then played straight. Thomas could not bring himself to kill Enola's papillion dog, leaving it outside in the hopes that it would die of exposure, but it survived and is adopted by Edith upon her arrival at Allerdale Hall. However, Lucille eventually breaks the dog's neck towards the end of the film.
  • Knife Nut: Lucille uses a knife to threaten Edith and murder her brother.
  • Last Girl Wins: Edith is actually Thomas's fourth wife; she's the only one he falls for and actually has sex with, and she's the only one to survive her experiences at the hands of the siblings.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Edith Cushing and Lady Lucille Sharpe in both appearance and personalities.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Thomas turns out to be one for Lucille. When he dies, she completely loses it.
  • Love Redeems: Thomas can't bring himself to kill Edith, whom he's actually fallen in love with, and he dies trying to defend her and Alan from Lucille. With a touch of Sex–Face Turn.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Alan McMichael is in love with Edith, who is married to Sir Thomas.
    • Thomas and Lucille have had deep feelings for one another since they were children; however, Thomas falls genuinely in love with Edith. Lucille doesn't like this at all.
  • Madness Makeover: After her Villainous Breakdown, the tightly dressed Lucille is running around in a loose nightgown with her hair down and swinging a giant meat cleaver.
  • Mad Scientist: Thomas has been an inventor since childhood, and as for the mad, well, his childhood wasn't that normal. An unusual example, however, in that it's just the methods he uses to get the funding to continue them that are insane, the experiments themselves, and what he's trying to achieve with them, are perfectly reasonable and sane.
  • Made of Iron: At the end Edith, by all rights, shouldn't even be able to move, yet she kills the Big Bad and walks away on her own two feet.
    • Similarly, Alan manages to survive for a significant period of time, despite his wounds. The second was an intentionally non-fatal stabbing, but the first was deeper and never seems to be attended to.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: Throughout the film, there is a consistent moths vs. butterflies motif. Lucille starts off by drawing Edith's attention to some butterflies dying because of the cold, and how only hard, but ugly moths live in the Sharpe's home. And what do the moths feed on? Pretty things.
    • This is exceptionally visible in the attic nursery for Thomas and Lucille, where the place is infested with moths. By the climax, we see Lucille has a butterfly collection, and even a collection of hair from all of Thomas' dead brides. Driving this symbolism home is that the dying butterflies were gold colored, just like most of Edith's favorite dresses. While the moths were black and blue. Two of Lucille and Thomas' main colors throughout the film.
  • Marry for Love: Edith decides to marry Sir Thomas, in spite of finding out that he doesn't have a lick of fortune to back his name. It's also part of why Thomas married Edith, despite his plan. He switches his seduction from the spoiled Eunice to Edith out of genuine attraction.
  • Meaningful Name: While Sharpes multiple implications should be obvious, Cushing references actor Peter Cushing, star of many Hammer Horror films.
  • Meet Cute: Sir Thomas shows up at Carter's office asking what he thinks is the secretary if he's late. Then he notices her writing and compliments it. Then he finds out she's Carter's daughter. Cue Oh, Crap! face.
  • Moment Killer: Lucille walks in on Thomas and Edith when they start to get frisky for the first time.
  • Moustache de Plume: Edith believes that her stories are being overlooked because her handwriting looks too obviously feminine, so tries a typewriter to conceal her gender.
  • Mundanger: All the ghosts have benevolent motives; the real horrors are Lucille, and, in the backstory, her and Thomas's abusive parents.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Though the film was marketed as a straight forward haunted house horror film, the final product turned out to be much different that what was represented. Del Toro himself has been quite vocal about what genre the film is (Gothic Romance in this case) and the film even spawned a few articles on how deceitful trailers can be to the annoyance of the audience.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Alan is a stand up guy, a physician and, by far, the most normal of the main characters, but his hobby is photographing ghosts.
  • Old, Dark House: Allerdale Hall fits this to a tee. And yes, it's haunted though it's actually the living occupants that pose the biggest threat to our heroine.
  • Ominous Fog: At the climax.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Justified: Thomas points out that since Alan's a doctor, he'll be able to tell him a place on his body to stab that will look convincing but do no real damage. Later, Lucille stabs Thomas in that same spot - only then to stab him again in the face.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: While Edith may be spooked by the various ghosts throughout the film, none of them bear any ill intent towards her.
  • The Peeping Tom: Lady Lucille peeps on her brother Thomas while he is alone with Edith. Since the Sharpe siblings are later revealed to be in an incestuous relationship, she is doing this to make sure that Thomas and Edith are not having sex.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: When Lucille's forcing Edith to sign over her property to the Sharpes just before she kills her, Edith suddenly stabs her with her pen. For bonus points, it's the same fountain pen her father gave to her at the beginning of the film.
  • Perfect Poison: Subverted. Lucille was poisoning Edith and the previous wives over a long period, long enough for one of them to become aware of what was happening to her. The art book also states that Lucille went ahead and killed two of them other ways because the poison wasn't doing it quick enough.
  • Pet the Dog: Lucille apparently let Enola Sciotti, Thomas's third wife, live longer than planned because she said she could save Thomas and Lucille's love child.
  • The Place: Crimson Peak is a nickname for Allerdale Hall. It is called such because in the winter, the clay around the area dyes the snow red.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Once Edith catches onto the tea Lucille serves her being poisoned, she refuses to drink it. So Lucille poisons both the tea and the porridge.
  • Police Are Useless: Edith's father, a rich and prominent citizen of New York, is killed by having half his face smashed in with enough force to destroy a sink. No one finds this odd and his death is ruled an "accident" by slipping. The doctor Alan is the only one who thinks some thing is fishy and he only figures it out months later.
  • Precision F-Strike: Lucille delivers one in the middle of The Reveal, telling Edith that she's the only one of Thomas's wives that he has actually "fucked".
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Lucille is a Type C. Though intelligent and and quite dangerous, she's also prone to fits of jealousy, impatient, likes to sing her childhood lullaby frequently and by the end, she kills Thomas when she finds out he's genuinely in love with Edith. When she kills him, her crying isn't that dissimilar to that of a upset child.
  • Questionable Consent: Lucille's affair with Thomas began before Thomas was twelve years old, and he is shown with his eyes closed when the two are in bed together, something that had previously been described as a defence mechanism during uncomfortable situations in order to make them pass more quickly.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Thomas genuinely falls in love with Edith and defends her and Alan from his sister. Lucille, furious that her brother has 'betrayed' her, kills him in a fit of rage. Oddly enough, the redemption continues after death as well, since Thomas's ghost distracts Lucille enough for Edith to get some killing blows in. It's implied that his actions mean his spirit will be able to move on, while Lucille's ghost is trapped in Allerdale Hall.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Alan is Edith's childhood friend and clearly has romantic feelings for her, but she chooses to marry the mysterious Sir Thomas. However, the film's ending implies that Edith and Alan will get together after all.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Once in Allerdale Hall, Edith keeps waking up in the middle of the night to find Thomas not in bed. The third time leads to the final reveal.
    • Thomas had married three women after Lucille and before Edith, so Edith is haunted by their three ghosts.
  • Scenery Gorn: Allerdale Hall is gorgeous, despite how decrepit the building is.
  • Self-Made Man: Carter Cushing and his colleagues are this. In particular, his hands are rough thanks to years of hard work. As such, he disapproves of Sir Thomas who has soft hands, clearly someone who relies more on the privilege of his family name than doing actual labor.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Lucille killed her mother when the latter found out that the siblings were engaging in incest with one another. And, according to The Art of Crimson Peak, she poisoned their father when he nearly caused Thomas's death.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Sir Thomas finally acts on real attraction to one of his wives and falls for her for real. Given the implications mentioned under Questionable Consent, this is also probably the first time he's had genuinely loving, healthy sexual contact with someone.
  • Sexless Marriage: Thomas and Edith have one because Thomas is respecting her decision to mourn her father. They later consummate the union at a local inn after being snowed in, although it turns out that Edith's mourning wasn't the only reason he was initially holding off being intimate with her - he didn't want to make his sister angry.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of this movie's trailers features a cover of Nick Cave's song "Red Right Hand". Another cover was featured in Del Toro's earlier Hellboy.
    • Edith and Thomas resemble Katrina and Ichabod from Sleepy Hollow (1999) (petite pale girl with flowing blonde hair with a sensitivity to the supernatural and tall pale brunette guy with a troubled childhood), another homage to Hammer Horror films.
    • The film opens with a child's voice singing a creepy lullaby, all alone and echoing strangely, just like the opening of The Innocents, which shares more than a few items in common with Crimson Peak.
    • Edith opens a closet door to check for the dog, and a ghost yanks the door closed from the inside. A discarded wheelchair serves as foreshadowing, but may also be a reference to Silent Hill, of which Del Toro is a fan. Even the film's DP Dan Lausten worked on the cinematic adaptation of the series.
    • The final shot of a ghostly Lucille, all in black, slowly turning into frame is close to the final shot of The Woman in Black.
    • Thomas' ghost shares the same appearance as Santi's : skin that looks like cracked porcelain, yellow eyes, blood pouring out like smoke from the wound that killed them...
    • The finale plays out as an intense cat-and-mouse game between the protagonist and a mentally unstable murderer in the middle of a snow storm, which appears to be a reference to the ending of The Shining. There is also a scene involving the ghost of a woman in a bathtub, recalling The Shining's room 237. Finally, Alan's story arc has a fair bit in common with that of Dick Halloran, with the major difference that Alan lives.
    • Edith's surname is inspired by Peter Cushing of Hammer Horror fame, and during the climax she stabs Lucille in the chest with her pen, almost staking her in the heart. What was one of the roles Cushing was most famous for playing, again?
    • A butterfly down to be crawled over in close-up by ants seems a reference to the beginning of Blue Velvet.
    • The plot about Edith stealing the cellar's key in a Bluebeard fashion, and the cellar containing the proof of illicit activities. Also her drink is ritually poisoned by an evil in-law and then she's saved in extremis by a former suitor. All of this comes straight from Alfred Hitchcock 's Notorious.
    • Lucille's claim that she and Thomas were locked in the attic a lot as kids could be a subtle reference to Flowers in the Attic.
  • Shovel Strike: Edith finishes Lucille off by bashing her head in with a shovel while she is momentarily distracted by her brother's ghost.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": When Edith breaks her leg falling, it's masked by the wood breaking on impact. When she climbs out of the mine shaft in the climax there's an audible snap as she rebreaks her leg.
  • Significant Anagram: Shortly after we first encounter the name "Enola", Lucille starts babbling about how she can't be "alone". This symbolizes how Lucille is Thomas's lover, not any of his wives, and she refuses to swap roles.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: A very creepy one of "Red Right Hand", in the trailer. May subvert The Cover Changes the Meaning, as the original song was pretty creepy anyway, this is just a different kind of creepy.
  • Snow Means Death: The eponymous house lies on a hilltop surrounded by a mostly barren snowy landscape. Thomas's ghost appears in the snow and Lucille dies in it. It's also snowing during the funeral of Edith's mother at the beginning of the film.
  • Snowed-In: The climax occurs during a heavy snowstorm. Previously, Thomas and Edith have to stay the night at the post office after getting snowed-in and end up finally consummating their marriage.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Del Toro's Spanish works, like The Devil's Backbone.
  • Spanner in the Works: Obviously the Sharpes couldn't account for the fact that Edith can see ghosts, meaning she finds out what they're planning thanks to evidence that the spirits help her discover. However, even more crucially, Thomas wasn't supposed to fall in love with Edith - "But it happened."
  • The Summation: Not quite a detective story, but Alan gets one in the end as he explains to Edith that the Sharpes' were involved in the murder of their mother.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: Enola's ghost's hair streams behind her.
  • Symbolic Blood: The red clay beneath the Sharpes' lands (although plenty of actual blood gets spilled too). The clay oozing through the walls and ground clearly reflects Allerdale Hall's dark and bloody past. A particularly notable example is when Lucille pushes Edith over the balcony; there's an overhead shot of her lying unconscious on the snowy ground as the clay forms a pool around her.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Sir Thomas Sharpe, unsurprising since he is played by Tom Hiddleston.
  • Tears of Blood: Thomas, after being stabbed in the face near the eye.
  • Title Drop:
    • The ghost of Edith's mother says the film's title twice, to warn her not to go there.
    • Another one comes courtesy of Thomas, in a rare Deadpan Snarker moment as he truly starts to fall for Edith.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the film's climax, both Alan and Thomas fall victim to some very poorly thought-out decisions (although the former just barely survives):
    • Alan walks within arms' reach of Lucille with his hands full, after confessing he knows everything about the siblings' crimes and is, presumably, going to expose them to the police. He is then surprised when she tries to murder him.
    • Thomas confesses he is going to keep Edith around to his murderous, jealous sister when she is even more unstable than usual. She immediately kills him in a fit of rage.
  • Tragic Monster: The ghosts only wish to warn Edith of the Sharpe's true intentions.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Once Alan begins to suspect something's fishy, he sets off for England from Boston - and somehow manages to get there in about a day, judging by the amount of time that's passed at Allerdale Hall.
    • Another explanation is that Alan's scenes are technically flashbacks, and that when Edith arrives at the Hall, he's actually already on a ship following her. (The ship carrying her mail would be a few days ahead of him.)
  • Troperiffic: The film is an intentional homage to classic Gothic Literature and so is packed to the brim with tropes of the Gothic genre.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: During Carter's funeral, Edith and Thomas are seen sharing an umbrella, indicating they're engaged now. To really hammer the point home, there's a close up of Edith, showing she's now wearing the Sharpe family ring on her ring finger.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lucille, after her If I Can't Have You... fit of rage toward Thomas leads to her murdering him. The shock from that turns her into a shrieking, meat cleaver-wielding madwoman.
  • Villainous Incest: The Sharpe siblings.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The few servants that still remain in the house disappear halfway through the movie.
  • White Shirt of Death: It's a nightgown and she doesn't die, but Edith's white outfit gets very red in spots by the end. Lucille, on the other hand, isn't so fortunate.
  • With This Ring: A distinctive ring initially worn by Lucille is a Sharpe family heirloom (her mother is also seen wearing it a portrait). She reluctantly gives it to Thomas so he can propose to Edith and she wears it as her engagement ring from then on until the third act, when Lucille yanks it off her finger.
    Lucille: The ring is mine. I earned it. I will want it back.
    Thomas: Then you’d better hope I'm successful. This is the last thing we have to sell.
    Lucille: You're not selling it. We...are buying something with it.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Edith picks up on Lucille's jealousy and assumes that she and Thomas are actually a couple pretending to be brother and sister. They're an incestuous couple.
  • Yandere: Lucille. When she realises Thomas actually loves Edith, she resorts to killing him too.
  • You Monster!: Edith calls Thomas and Lucille monsters after they reveal their true colours. The latter replies that their mother said the same before she was murdered.


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