Director Guillermo del Toro gives us the inside scoop on the making of the gothic horror Crimson Peak, and talks about working with Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam.
It’s that time of year when all of the horror films hit the scene in time for Halloween. Get ready to be creeped out by Crimson Peak, a gothic romance directed by one of the genre’s best, Guillermo del Toro.
In Crimson Peak — Mia Wasikowska two-time Academy Award® nominee Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam — discover the power that love has to make monsters of us all. As the writer and director of such modern classics as The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth and the producer of such terrifying thrillers as The Orphanage and Mama, del Toro delivers a unique blend of psychological terror and intrigue.
“A Gothic Romance is really a mixture of genres. It combines heightened melodrama with dark fairytale and horror. It’s more creepy than scary and has a beauty all of its own,” Del Toro said during a press interview.
Set in the year 1901, Crimson Peak follows the life of Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), an aspiring author living with her father, Sir Carter Cushing who continues to be haunted by the death of her mother. She is cursed with the power to communicate with the souls of the dead, and begins to receive a mysterious warning from beyond the grave: “Beware of Crimson Peak.”
An outsider in high society thanks to her willful imagination, Edith f finds herself torn between two rival suitors: her childhood companion, Dr. Alan McMichael (Hunnam), a brilliant intellect who stimulates her mind, or the irresistibly seductive Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), an outsider who steals her heart.
When her father dies in mysterious circumstances, Thomas sweeps Edith away to his luxurious family estate: Allerdale Hall—a vast gothic mansion in the remote English hills, alive with mystery and danger. The towering gothic house is also home to Thomas’ sister, Lucille (Chastain)—a mysterious and alluring woman whose affection to Edith hides a secret agenda. As Edith settles into her new life, Crimson Peak takes on a life of its own, in typical del Toro fashion.
“The house in the movie was created to be a character,” said del Toro. “It’s a reflection of the characters that live in it. It bleeds, speaks, breathes… it reacts with people. When one character gets angry it breathes. They are linked. The windows are shaped like eyes, always watching, and there are silhouettes of people and faces hidden in the architecture of the house.” (Crimson Peak was filmed in Toronto with Casa Loma castle as the main backdrop.)
Although Crimson Peak is set to be a chilling and creepy story filled with horrifying secrets and ghosts, del Toro says love is at the center.
“The movie is about a girl who doesn’t believe in love but she’s also never experienced it. When she does, she thinks love should be like a fairytale. What happens in the movie is that she finds that love is also full of darkness and imperfection and that you need to except the monstrosity of it,” del Toro said. “With Lucille, a different type of love is represented. It’s possessive, destructive, and manipulative. These two points of view end of facing off against each other in the movie.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a great del Toro movie without a stellar cast. According to the director each actor brought a certain sensibility to each character that made the story come together perfectly.
“I think Tom creates a character full of darkness but you are sympathetic to him, you understand his humanity and Mia brings an incredible accessibility of a modern girl in a period film. She’s very capable, fragile yet really strong,” he continued. “Charlie Hunnam brings sort of a beautiful timidity. His character is shy, and I think it’s closer to who he is in real life opposed to the super hero kind of characters he’s played.”
And as for Chastain, del Toro says she sets the bar high when it comes to being evil.
“I think Jessica Chastain creates one of the most formidable villains in the genre. She not only makes Lucille formidable as an enemy, but also emotional. You end up begrudgingly feeling for her despite the horrible acts she’s committed.”
Crimson Peak opens in theatres October 16.