Set in a crumbling mansion in Cumbria, England, a largely rural and mountainous region of northern England in the early 20th century, Crimson Peak focuses on the main character Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) who falls in love and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston).
Edith Cushing is the daughter of Carter Cushing, a self made industrialist. Ever since her mother’s death, she has had terrifying encounters with her mother’s restless spirit who whispers the warning: “Beware of Crimson Peak.” As a young lady, she aspires to write about ghosts she encounters. However, Cushing is pressured into writing about romance because she is a “lady.” Despite Cushing’s attempts in writing these romance stories, she continues to fail until the stories pass the eye of a visiting aristocrat seeking funding for an invention of his own, Sir Thomas Sharpe. Edith’s father, however, is wary of the aristocracy and thus turns Sharpe away with extreme distaste. Sharpe then focuses his attentions on Cushing and gains her affection by crediting her as a gifted writer and story-teller. With his sweet wording, Sharpe begins a romance with Cushing that is observed closely by her childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam).
Mysteriously, Cushing’s father is brutally killed as his skull is crushed while in the bathroom. Stuck in despair, Cushing seeks solace in her romance with Sharpe who convinces her to travel to England to escape the ghosts of her past. Remembering the horror of her mother’s visits, Cushing immediately agrees and sets sail for England. Once at Allerdale Hall, Cushing is amazed at the dilapidated mansion teetering on the red mire beneath it named Crimson Peak (though this is not mentioned to Cushing at first). There, Lady Lucille Sharpe, Thomas’s older sister who seemed to dislike Cushing at first becomes even more cruel and controlling of her, denying her a copy of the keys to the rooms of the house. Cushing is once again visited by the spirit of her mother who again wraps her fingers around Edith’s shoulder and offers the same warning: “Beware of Crimson Peak.” However, every day Lucille would bring “tea” for Edith to drink.
As the time she spent at the mansion increased, Edith’s inquiries about the house’s and the family’s histories began to become more vocal, and ghosts begin to appear all the more, beckoning her to the mines below. Despite a warning from her husband, Edith ventures into the attic where the two siblings were holed up by their abusive mother and to the rendering vats below in the mines where she uncovers the decaying corpse of Sir Thomas’s last victim.
It is later revealed that Thomas and Lucille have been using the inheritance of brides whose families lost their patriarch to fund Thomas’s inventive efforts. It’s also revealed that the siblings conspired both to murder the holder of the fortune if necessary and then the woman herself. Furthermore, Edith found out that Thomas has an incestuous relationship with his sister who seduced him at a young age and that Lucille also conspired to free them and ‘never be apart’ by killing their own mother who had discovered the siblings’ intimate relationship. However, Sir Thomas has truly fallen in love with Edith, and cannot bring himself to do the deed. Insane with jealousy and greed, Lucille loses her calm demeanor and becomes a maniac.
McMichael who found out about the actions of the siblings arrives to take Edith back to New York only to be stabbed and wounded terribly by a knife-wielding Lucille. Thomas does not want his wife to be in mortal danger and helps Edith escape the house only to be killed by Lucille in the process. Edith becomes enraged that the man she loved was corrupted by Lucille and herself strikes back with an equally large butcher knife, and Lucille dies in the end. Leaving the corpse of Lucille, Edith returns to the house and rescues McMichael. The two escaped to another place and the siblings are now ghosts residing in the mansion.
Picture Credits: Crimson Peak and Digital Trends