Released 10/16/2015 Rated: R
I enjoyed this film. I enjoyed it a lot, up until the twist, which resulted in the ending. It’s not a bad twist, and I certainly didn’t see it coming, but I guess I was just expecting a little more out of the ending. We were definitely expecting something more paranormal out of the movie, but like Edith says: “It’s not a ghost story; it’s a story with ghosts in it.” [I will be spoiling this movie, so heads up!]
I love this movie visually. All of the colors are bright and bold without clashing with each other. Such a rich palette of bright hues. The wardrobe (especially the women’s dresses), the red clay oozing throughout the dilapidated mansion, the Cushing’s home, the ghosts, and even the funerals had a vibrancy about them. It’s almost as if the audience is transported into a dream world, which supports the theory that the entire movie is actually Edith’s story.
As an aspiring author, Edith wants to get her story published, but the publisher says she needs to incorporate a love story, an idea she is rather adverse to. Enter Sir Thomas Sharpe, a handsome, charming, mysterious outsider. She is resistant at first, but he soon sweeps her off her feet, and she allows him to get close. Mr. Cushing does not approve of the growing attraction between his daughter and this stranger, and bribes Sharpe to leave town, but first Thomas has to break Edith’s heart. How does he do that? He insults her story. He says it’s obvious she knows nothing of real love or heartache because she paints her characters as flawless; a perfect love, of which there is no such thing. This is when things begin to change, and the regal image of Thomas Sharpe we’ve had up till now begins to fade. Tragedy sets in, and Thomas whisks Edith away to England as his new wife. He brings her home to a dilapidated mansion: there is a giant hole in the roof, letting the natural elements in to the house, giant moths cling to the walls, the house is sinking into the ground, resulting in the bright red ore oozing down the walls and getting into the pipes, and it’s miles to the nearest point of civilization. Not to mention the ghosts she soon sees roaming the halls, which no one else seems to want to give her any straight answers about. These are some of the freakiest ghosts I’ve ever seen. I mean, I love (most) horror movies, and these things creeped me the hell out.
Fuck that shit!!
As Edith explores her new home and begins to uncover things about her new family, she quickly realizes just how fast her world is crumbling around her, much like the house she seems trapped in. Thomas and Lucille Sharpe, who are now all she has, have been keeping secrets, some affecting her marriage more than others. And Edith soon learns that Lucille, who has never been overtly warm toward her, has been poisoning her.
So, when you find out what’s really going on, I mean EVERYTHING that’s going on, it begs the question: was Thomas just playing Edith to get money? I don’t think so. I believe he really loves her, he just doesn’t know what to do to help; he feels trapped. It’s my belief that Lucille had the other girl in mind, the one Thomas passed up to dance with Edith at the party in the beginning. She even says “You chose her,” like, now what? The way he looks at her, and the way passions begin to unfurl, especially when Lucille interrupts them in his workshop, and of course when they spend the night in the hotel (what an ass!): this is the first woman Thomas has fallen for, maybe, ever. And listen closely to the recordings Edith finds hidden in the closet. The other woman tells Thomas to say something. “What do you want me to say?” / “Tell me you love me.” / “…” I don’t even think we hear him say it. He never loved any of the other women, he was just playing the part to get their money for the construction of the drill he’s been working on. But he loves Edith, Lucille sees it, and she is not happy at all. Now let’s be real for a second, Lucille is borderline psychotic. Most likely all of this has been her idea from the start, she’s used to being in control, she clearly has her brother under her thumb, she’s the one killing people, and she has a phobia of being left alone. Thomas wants a better life, he’s tired of the toxic environment he’s been in, and wants to start over. He tries to break away, but he’s been under his sister’s control for so long, and even though he wants to escape, he just can’t do it. He loves Edith, and doesn’t want to kill her, but he loves Lucille as well, and wants a better life for all of them. He even tries to convince her to leave with them when he goes back to save Edith. He says they can all start over, but that’s when Lucille loses it.
The more I think on it, the more I love this movie. Like I said earlier, I loved it up until the twist, but it works for the movie. It’s edgy, creepy, gruesome, and beautiful all at once. Guillermo del Toro didn’t want to make a horror movie, and he didn’t. It’s a Gothic Romance. And like all things del Toro touches, it’s amazing. There are even allusions to some of his other movies. Definitely check it out.