Capítulo II _ Cinema - Cinema

“A house as old as this”: Domestic Horror in Del Toro’s Crimson Peak

Diana Marques
CEAUL-ULisboa, Portugal
Ana Rita Martins
CEAUL-ULisboa, Portugal


The importance of ‘place’ in human experience has been widely recognised by scholarship in different fields of study (Smith 1987; Martin 2014; McAndrew 2020) that have pointed out how one’s sense of place and of personal identity are deeply linked. In this context, one of the most relevant places is the house in which one grows up and lives. Traditionally, the home has been depicted as a haven, a shelter from the menaces of the outside world, to where one can safely withdraw. However, what happens when the home creates feelings of horror and oppression, and becomes a site of conflict and brutality?
Guillermo Del Toro’s 2015 gothic film Crimson Peak delves into these questions by introducing a house, Allerdale Hall, and a family, the Sharpes, haunted by a cruel past that is both alive and impossible to forget. In this paper, we intend to show how, by resorting to well-known gothic tropes, Crimson Peak subverts the audience’s expectations of home and forces us to question whether the latter can be a safe space. We also aim to discuss the role of the main female characters whom Del Toro seems to model after the Victorian ideal of womanhood, ‘the angel in the house’, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), and its/her antagonist, ‘the fallen woman’ and ‘the madwoman in the attic’, Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), whose sexuality threatens socially accepted norms.

Palavras-chave Home, Horror, Monstrosity, Space, Femininity.
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Este trabalho encontra-se publicado com a Licença Internacional Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0.

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