Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Where Is Allerdale Hall in 'Crimson Peak'?


Not since Queen Victoria's reign have we found a piece of Gothic fiction as beautifully realized as Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak." As literary scholars would tell you, houses in Gothic stories usually upstage the living, breathing characters themselves. Allerdale Hall, the film's scene-stealing haunted house, is a worthy modern successor to anything the Brontë sisters or Daphne du Maurier ever dreamed of. It can more than hold its own in the moaning and shrieking department with Jessica Chastain or Mia Wasikowska.

Creating a gothic house is just a lot trickier for Guillermo than dedicated Gothic authors: He has more than paper to work with. To corporealize Allerdale Hall, he had a cavernous soundstage built in Pinewood Studios in Toronto for interior shots. The set was reportedly three stories high — it has since been demolished — and took some seven months to erect.

Allerdale Hall's exquisite foyer. Photo via Collider

And since the house is a character in its own right, Guillermo was very hands-on about the set design.

Guillermo was particularly meticulous about color in this film. Rooms in the soundstage were reportedly color-coded to mirror certain moods in the script. Also, the wallpaper supposedly had the word "fear" embedded into it, literally. That is to say nothing of moths as a motif permeating the wallpaper and tiles throughout the makeshift manse.


“I think that digital effects or computer effects should only be used as a last resort,” Guillermo went on record as saying.

Viewers, however, get to thank CGI for the glorious hole in the sky that is Allerdale Hall's ceiling. Also, many exterior shots of Allerdale Hall were rendered in pixel, although a facade for the house was constructed on a hilltop outside Toronto. 

Allerdale Hall took seed in paintings as much as real Gothic houses. Edward Hopper's 1925 artwork "House by the Railroad" steered the movie toward the right (art) direction.


There is at least one very real Gothic house related to the film: the Casa Loma in Toronto. The ball scene was filmed in the castle-cum-mansion's opulent library. 

Casa Loma in Canada. Via InSapphoWeTrust

As for a real-life place in Cumbria where sanguine clay seeps into snow, it's all a conceit straight from Guillermo's twisted mind. You'd have to go all the way to Blood Falls in Antarctica to see red on snow, or wait for a polar bear to pounce on you in winter. 

BLOOD FALLS. Real-life Crimson Peak in Antarctica. Via Peter Rejcek

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