Crimson Peak ★★★★

I missed this at the cinema but decided that it was probably worth a watch on Netflix as it looked like exactly the sort of lurid Gothic fantasy film that I really enjoy. It is directed by Guillermo del Toro and tells the story of an American woman who marries an English aristocrat who is attempting to revive his family's fortunes by mining the copious deposits of red clay underneath the family seat.

The plot set up largely serves to get us from America to the Old World and to the house, the titular Crimson Peak. And what a house! It is tumbling down inside and symbolises the once rich Sharp family's fall from grace, despite being large and of ornate Gothic design, the creaking, ancient house has an enormous hole in the ceiling of the central hall through which snow and leaves can fall, it is dark and cold and includes a forbidden cellar full of secrets.

There is a rich vein of British horror heritage running through this film with wax cylinders appearing as a plot device, a clear reference to Dracula, there is also an attempted murder which recalls Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein, a plot which draws heavily on Angela Carter's mining of the Bluebeard myth and even the protagonist's surname Cushing referring to the legendary Peter Cushing. Perhaps the greatest tribute to Hammer is the bright red clay on which the house stands which oozes scarlet up through the floorboards.

I absolutely loved every minute of the film, but then again, I think I was always going to. Anything which refers so explicitly to some of my favourite parts of horror history was bound to get on my good side. The production design on the house was what really blew me away but I really enjoyed watching a film that was not afraid to indulge in lurid, sensory, high Gothic horror.