On the eve of Crimson Peak’s opening day, Guillermo del Toro tweeted, “One last time before release. Crimson Peak: not a horror film. A Gothic Romance. Creepy, tense, but full of emotion…”
Before seeing this film, I had read all about its Gothic, particularly literary, influences, and most particularly the influence of Ann Radcliffe. But, when I saw the trailers, which feature the heroine, Edith, pronouncing, “Ghosts are real,” as well as images of the ghosts themselves, I had to wonder what these influences could possibly be. Radcliffe championed the concept of the explained supernatural in her late eighteenth-century Gothic novels: her ghosts are intentionally not real. What her heroines first imagine to be ghosts turn out to be wax figures or wandering romantics, or some other easily-explained phenomenon. Crimson Peak, however, engages with these literary Gothic influences in a more nuanced way. It’s not that the ghosts aren’t real, it’s that the ghosts aren’t the real threat to our heroine. The real threat is flesh and blood.