Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is an aspiring novelist in early-20th-century America, the sheltered only child of a wealthy industrialist and widower (Jim Beaver). She falls under the spell of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a charming, but nearly destitute baronet visiting this side of the Atlantic to secure financing for a prospective mining operation on his land in North West England. After a tragedy and much to surprise of polite society, Edith and Thomas wed, and she journeys to live with him in his ancestral home. It is an opulent, but decayed manor slowly descending into the expanse of scarlet clay upon which it is constructed, and the newlyweds share it with his icily guarded sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and, it turns out, a host of perturbed spirits. To survive what she discovers to be a hostile environment, a frightened, yet determined Edith must unravel the mysterious history of the Sharpe family.
Crimson Peak is a hypnotic geyser of a film: a cavernous, richly imagined Edwardian spectacle of high fashion, the grotesque, and the sensual. Highly respected genre specialist Guillermo del Toro directs it with the contagious and unbridled enthusiasm of a child unleashed in a toy store.
His influences are not hard to spot—he draws from the headstrong heroines and windswept country estates of Henry James and the Brontë sisters, as well as the suspense films Gaslight and Notorious, both of which feature Ingrid Bergman as an imperiled wife in a duplicitous household—but his reverence is productive, powering a vigorous homage to an antique and profoundly romantic idea of the macabre.