Guillermo del Toro is one of those rare directors with the ability to seamlessly plunge the audiences into the vortex of a fantasy world where gruesome ghosts come alive at night. His ‘Crimson Peak’ is a stylistic but traditional gothic horror that seeks to amalgamate Mary Shelly and Jane Austen with the sprinkle of a generous amount of Bronte sisters. Essentially Victorian in scope and uncanny in proportions, the film employs the Mexican director’s own visual style to play with the psychology of the viewer on so many levels. There is a bride in distress, a perfectly Victorian antihero, a visually scarring house that is sinking under a clay pit, a jealous sister-in-law, and an unthinkable past crime.
The story follows Edith Cushing, an intelligent woman and aspiring author, who finds herself in a trap when she marries the charming baronet Thomas Sharpe. Famed actors Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Tom Hiddleston play their parts articulately in the lead roles, and fuelled by stunning visuals, the story gives way to a horrific revelation that is somewhat anticipated but not quite expected. If the ending of the film has left you thoroughly puzzled, let us break down the finer points for you. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Crimson Peak Plot Synopsis
Little Edith is haunted by her mother’s ghost, who warns her about a “Crimson Peak.” The next scene opens in Buffalo, New York. Edith is an aspiring author trying to get her ghost story through to the publisher, but the publisher thinks there should be a romantic angle. Edith, under the wing of her loving father, has grown up to be a free-thinking liberal woman. While typing out the second draft of her novel in her father’s office, Edith meets a seemingly charming man. We get to know that he is one Thomas Sharpe, a baronet intending to do business with Edith’s father, Carter Cushing. He demonstrates his clay-mining invention before Mr. Cushing and the board of directors in his company, but Mr. Cushing is not convinced. Thomas Sharpe makes advances towards Edith, and they seem to develop a romantic attachment to each other.
Mr. Cushing senses that Thomas and his sister Lucille are hiding something sinister and hires an informer named Holly to track them. Holly delivers an unsavory piece of information, and Mr. Cushing orders the Sharpe siblings to leave at once, offering them a lucrative amount of money. Thomas breaks Edith’s heart by vehemently criticizing her work and leaves for Cumberland. However, Carter Cushing is convincingly killed by an unidentified assailant in the next scene, while Edith receives a compelling letter from Thomas Sharpe. In a fit of passion, she runs to stop Thomas from leaving. They meet at the hotel, and Thomas proposes to her. They get hastily wedded, and along with Thomas’ sister, they leave for England.
They arrive at a rundown gothic manor named Allerdale Hall, which is the family estate of the Sharpe family. The house sits above a clay pit which is gradually engulfing it. Lucille is not exactly enthusiastic about the marriage, and she denies giving the keys to Edith. Edith has supernatural encounters in the house, but like Edith’s book, ghosts lead to a far more sinister past of Thomas’s life. When Edith finds out the popular name of the place, “Crimson Peak,” she is reminded of her mother’s warning. Cushing family doctor McMichael senses deceit in the hasty marriage of Edith and contacts Holly. In the meantime, Edith’s life is in danger, and she must escape the blasted place at all cost.
Crimson Peak Ending: Are Thomas and Lucille Dead or Alive?
In the final scenes, Lucille wants Edith to sign the documents necessary to transfer the funds. However, Thomas warns Edith that she would be killed once she signs the papers. In the attic, Lucille burns Edith’s manuscript at the oven and forces her to sign the papers. A helpless Edith signs the papers and then stabs Lucille with the pen that Edith’s father gave to her. She runs to the elevator, where Thomas comes up to her. He vows that he will deal with Lucille, and the siblings end up in a brawl of their own.
Lucille stabs Thomas with a knife, and he is seemingly dead. Afterward, Lucille goes to the chamber where Edith stays hidden. Lucille picks up a butcher knife from the floor and attacks Edith. Edith runs out in the snow, and the showdown ensues. Lucille vows that she would fight Edith until one of them dies. Thomas’s ghost appears on the scene, and while Lucille is distracted, Edith bashes her head in with a shovel. It seems that both of them perish with the mansion, ending the twisted history of the Sharpe family.
Who Killed Carter Cushing?
In the early moments of the film, an unidentified assailant bashes Carter’s head on the basin, effectually killing him. This happens right after Carter Cushing asks the Sharpe siblings to leave America, and we are under the impression that they may be involved in the murder. Towards the end of the film, Edith comes to know of Thomas’s previous marriages, his incestuous relationship with his sister Lucille, and also that jealous Lucille is poisoning the tea to murder her in cold blood.
When everything comes out in the open, Edith suspects that one of the Sharpe siblings killed her father. On the other side, the Cushing family doctor, McMichael, suspects that Thomas may be involved in the murder of Carter. Upon asking Lucille, she discloses that it was her who killed Carter Cushing.
Did Thomas Really Love Edith?
At the beginning of the film, Carter notices that Thomas has tried to find investment in London, Edinburgh, and Milan. In due course, we come to know that Thomas has had three wives in those three cities: Pamela Upton, Margaret McDermott, and Enola Sciotti. Edith is prompt to steal the keys to Enola’s trunk from the stack of keys that Lucille keeps close to herself, procuring documents that give Edith further insight into Thomas’s previous marriages.
Edith also repeatedly wakes up at night to find Thomas missing from the bed. One night, in one of her usual candlelit explorations of the manor, she finds Lucille and Thomas making love to each other. Apparently, they have been incestuous lovers from early teenage, and Lucille has managed to kill every bride of Thomas that has come to “Crimson Peak” before Edith. However, one night, the newlyweds spend a steamy night at the depot, and Lucille is seemingly upset.
Edith is the first one among the wives with whom Thomas has had sex, and apart from that, Thomas seems to have fallen in love with Edith from their first encounter at Carter’s office. The love develops gradually, which is evident in Thomas’s opinion that Edith is different from everybody. Towards the end, we are sure that Lucille is a controlling and manipulative elder sister with immense power over Thomas.
But Thomas reveals himself as an intrinsically good soul, and he tries to save McMichael by asking him where to stab him. He also discloses to Lucille that he is in love with Edith. In the final moment of conflict between the two women, the ghost of Thomas appears on the scene to distract Lucille. It seems that Edith rightfully conjectures that Lucille had been suffocating Thomas. All things considered, we can rightly claim that Thomas loves Edith.
Is The Dog Dead?
In the scene where McMichael confronts the Sharpe siblings, and he is consequentially attacked by Lucille, the dog appears on the scene. The dog belonged to Thomas’s previous wife, Enola Sciotti, and while Thomas had banished the dog into the wild, it has seemingly survived the winter. Edith adopts the dog and tends after it. However, when Lucille calls the dog, it is where the defenseless creature is last seen in the film. We are under the impression that the sinister human being in Lucille has killed the dog.
Why is The Mansion Floor Red?
According to the narrative of the film, the floor of the mansion is red because it sits atop a clay pit. When Edith first sets foot in the titular Crimson Peak, Thomas tells her that the mansion is sinking. He presses his feet on the floor, and crimson lava gets discharged from the ground. The sticky crimson substance is seen again in the chamber full of reservoirs. The ghosts seen in the film are red, and Thomas’s life has been spent trying to build a machine that can extract the clay from the ground. In the final escape scene, we can see that the snow outside the mansion is crimson-hued from the discharge.
The obvious answer would be that the mansion floor is red because of the clay pit underneath it. However, the color red also gives the mansion its local title and christens the film itself. The director has seemingly toyed with the viewers’ minds by the stylistic insertion of the color of blood. According to a newspaper provided to McMichael by Holly, the Sharpe siblings, in an attempt to hide their incestuous inclinations, had killed their mother by poisoning her. The gruesome history of the house also seems to have invoked the color crimson, and the visual ploy works brilliantly to capture the horrific atmosphere of Allerdale Hall.
Read More: Where was Crimson Peak Filmed?