Echoes of Resident Evil: Code Veronica in Guillermo del Torro's Crimson Peak

Thursday 5 April 2018

Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Torro's unforgettable thriller about an intellectual heiress who falls in the trap of a downfallen degenerate aristocrat and her charming brother, seems to share many essential plot elements with the epic Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Del Torro does not cite the game among his influences and inspirations for the creation of the film, but still the similarities are way too many and way too obvious to pass unnoticed.

The plot in Crimson Peak is centered around Edith, a girl who lives with her father, a wealthy businessman, in 1887's New York. Edith is an aspiring writer and likes to write scare stories, haunted by certain childhood experiences during which the ghost of her dead mother would visit her and warn her about a mysterious Crimson Peak, in what seemed to be a verge between dream and reality. One day she meets Thomas Sharpe, a young baronet from England who claims that he is an inventor and is looking for investors to support his work. Thomas is always accompanied by his sister Lucille, older by two years, who seems rather cold and crypic in her behaviour. Soon after Edith's father denies to invest on Thomas's invention, he discovers some interesting info about the Englishman and his sister and, seeing that Edith is falling in love with the young man, he orders the siblings to leave as soon as possible by offering them a generous check. On that day, however, Edith's father is brutally murdered by a mysterious stranger and Edith, emotionally crushed, finds support in Thomas's presence. It is not long before the two get married and Edith follows her husband in England, in their mansion which is located on an isolated mountainous area called Crimson Peak.

Edith finds out that the mansion is in a really bad state, derelict and with no means to keep it going. Meanwhile, her marriage with Thomas is never consumated, as Thomas claims that he wants to respect her mourning for her father's death. Edith starts discovering several frightening things about the house, like ghosts roaming its corridors at night and a creepy basement with several locked cauldrons. One day when the couple are in town on business, they get snowed in and they spend the night in a host house where they finally make love. When they return home the other day and Lucille learns about this detail, she gets infuriated and nearly attacks Edith. At some point, Edith realizes that she is being slowly poisoned by Lucille, who secretly adds poison in the tea which she offers her every day. She finds out that Lucille and Thomas are lovers, maintaning an incestuous relationship ever since they were in their early teens. However this is only half the truth. In reality, it was the psychopathic Lucille who first dragged her innocent brother into this, not hesitating to kill her austere mother when the old lady found out what was going on. Later, she urged Thomas into seducing and marrying wealthy girls from whom they took all their money and later killed in due time. However in Edith's case things didn't work out that well, because Thomas fell in love with her and because her childhood friend Alan came looking for her. Lucille, who was also the one who killed Edith's father, murders her brother out of jealousy but Edith manages to defeat her, avenging both her own torture and her husband's death.

Althrough Crimson Peak's plot is not related to the storyline of Code Veronica, there are several interesting details that bring the game to mind as you are watching the film.

The evil siblings

Admittedly not exactly the same case, but quite similar from certain aspects. Lucille and Thomas in Crimson Peak had devised a cunning and twisted plan which they had been following for several years, so as to keep their incestuous relationship going. In fact the plan was Lucille's, who had developed an unhealthy obsession with her brother and was emotionally and physically attached to him.

Pretty much like Lucille, Alfred Ashford in Code Veronica was sentimentally attached to his genious sister Alexia, and went as fas to dress up and act like her after her death.

An imposing but derelict mansion

Allerdale Hall, the family home of the Sharpe siblings, once was a glorious and imposing mansion but now, with no means to preserve it, it has become a cold and unfriendly place with snow falling from its ceiling holes.

The private mansion of the Ashfords, well-hidden at the back of the main house, is also in a decadent state. Its garden is in ruins, with fountains that have frozen and there is no water in them, and the house itself is adandoned and hostile.

A snowy scenery

Edith arrives in Allerdale Hall in winter, and soon the whole place is covered with snow. The white scenery adds to the unsettling atmosphere that this hostile place creates, while at the same time acting as a symbol foreshadowing death and all that is buried and lost.

Nearly half the plot of Code Veronica takes place in Antarctica, where the snow and cold naturally dominate. The stillness of the frozen environment accentuates the feeling of fear and isolation that is following the lead characters throughout the whole story.

The attic

The Allerdale Hall has an attic that Thomas has turned into his personal sanctuary: it is the place where he makes his inventions and creates his dolls.

The Ashford mansion also has an attic; it is hidden above one of the bedrooms and it is a private study where Alfred keeps his collection of books and stuffed butterflies.

The moths

There are black moths in abundance in Allerdale Hall. Moths are fluttering around the house because of the humidity and moss that grows in there, but they are also used as a symbol for the evil Lucille.

When Claire and Steve find themselves in the secret Umbrella facility in Antarctica, one of the most dangerous enemies that they encounter are huge, poisonous moths which like to grab onto their victims' back and bite them relentlessly.

The imagery of voracious ants

Early on in Crimson Peak, after Edith befriends Thomas and Lucille, the three go for a walk in the park together. There Lucille and Edith have a conversation which, for Lucille's part, is full of cryptic messages and allegories, and it is about the dying butterflies that are devoured by ants. We even get a close-up of the described scene.

As Claire wanders in the Ashford main house, at some point she needs to operate a film reel machine to open a secret passage. The scene that plays shows young Alfred and Alexia ripping off the wings of a dragonfly, then placing it in a bowl full of ants that attack the helpless insect and devour it.

In both cases, the imagery is particularly strong, as it carries major symbolisms that relate to the characters involved.

The red jewel

When Thomas proposes to Edith, he offers her a ring with a red stone, which was his mother's. Later on, as Lucille is in the process of eliminating Edith, she can be seen wearing the ring herself.

Alexia in Code Veronica has a trademark jewel, which is a choker with a red stone attached to it. This stone is actually the key to solving one of the many puzzles in the mansion.

A lullaby

Lucille likes to play the piano and her favourite piece is a melancholic lullaby which she used to sing to Thomas when they were little.

An equally wistful lullaby is the theme that plays from Alfred and Alexia's music boxes, as well as from a mechanical piano in the main house. In Game of Oblivion of The Darkside Chronicles, which is a retelling of the Code Veronica story, Claire and Steve also see and hear Alfred singing the lullaby while impersonating Alexia.

An intimidating portrait

In the Allerdale Hall, the huge portrait of the late matriarch of the house, the mother of Lucille and Thomas, is hanging on a central wall. The angry and judging gaze in Lady Sharpe's eyes makes her look like she could come to life any moment.

Alexia's portrait is in the same way imposing itself in the main house of the Ashfords. In the painting, Alexia looks extremely tall and can be seen wearing her favourite purple dress.

The family story in pictures

One of the first things that Edith notices when she arrives at the Allerdale Hall is a mural depicting two young children playing. She is distracted before being able to realize what it is, but in fact the children are young Thomas and young Lucille.

In the office of the main house of the Ashfords, there is an antique music box which has to be operated so that the secret passage leading to the hidden manor will be revealed. In Game of Oblivion, this part is a bit more complex, with Alfred challenging Claire and Steve to solve a riddle that says "the boy and the girl, destined to be one, will reveal the path". This riddle is connected to the music box which features a mini game where Claire and Steve have to shoot several obstacles, allowing a boy and a girl to meet each other. Of course the boy and the girl depict Alfred and Alexia.

Additionally, again in Game of Oblivion, Alfred can be seen holding a snow globe featuring a snowy scenery with two blonde children, who also symbolize himself and his sister.

Dolls and their symbolism

Thomas Sharpe has a hobby: he creates dolls and he is actually quite talented. Dolls in his case symbolize his lost childhood; he keeps creating them in a subconscious attempt to go back to the innocence of those years, that he was not allowed to have.

Alfred's mansion is full of dolls; some are in a good state and some look creepy as hell. For Alfred, dolls symbolize his attachment to the past and his emotional state which is still that of an immature child that refuses to grow up, although he is in his late 20ties.

Haunted corridors

The family home of the Sharpes is the residence of the souls of all the victims of Lucille and Thomas. Edith, who has the ability to see ghosts, bumps onto them several times while wandering in the mansion's corridors at night.

The whole Ashford residence is inhabited by zombies and monsters, which are lurking around every corner and, unlike the tormented ghosts in the Allerdale Hall who in reality want to alert and warn Edith, these ones here are extremely hostile and bloodthirsty.

Ghosts of the past

Among the ghosts that Edith sees in the mansion's corridors, the most terrifying one is that of Lady Sharpe, the mother of the siblings, whom Lucille murdered with an axe when she found out about the incestuous relationship of her children. Lady Sharpe keeps wandering around the house, as her soul is unable to find rest.

Alfred had trapped his father, Alexander, and started testing on him a virus that was created by Alexia. As a result, Alexander eventually mutated and became the horrifying Nosferatu, who was kept locked in the basement of the Antarctica facility until the day when he managed to break free. This happened while Claire and Steve were still there, struggling to find a way out, and he went on to attack them.

A cruel murder

When Lucille finds out that Thomas is in love with Edith and that he is trying to help her escape, her jealousy and sick passion overwhelm her and she kills him.

In Game of Oblivion, Alfred wakes Alexia up from her slumber of 15 years, and she comes back as a vicious monster who attacks her brother and crushes him with her lethal tentacles.

It is notable that in the original story of Code Veronica this does not happen; instead, the awakened Alexia holds the body of her dying brother in her arms while planning her revenge.


Unknown said...

You know, I've always seen several parallels between RE Code Veronica and Crimson Peak, especially regarding the antagonists of those two works. I assumed I was the only who saw those connexions. Reading this article was a pleasant surprise. Not only I realize I'm not imagining things, but also you revealed more similarities I hadn't noticed until I read this.

Quality content, as usual!

hisbrokenbutterfly said...

@Unknown, it has always been very obvious to me as well!

Unknown said...

It also makes sense, Guillermo Del Toro is a gamer, a proud geek.