Crimson Peak Blu-ray Review
“Ghosts are real. This much I know.” These words are spoken by Edith Cushing, whose deceased mother visited her one night shortly after her funeral, warning her, “When the time comes, beware of Crimson Peak…”
Edith (Mia Wasikowska, David Cronenberg’s MAPS TO THE STARS; she will reprise her role as Alice in Tim Burton’s ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS in 2016) has grown up an aspiring author, seeking publication with her ghost stories, rather than the tales of romances expected of a female writer. She meets a baronet named Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, HIGH-RISE), who has come to Buffalo to pitch an invention to Edith’s father, Carter (Jim Beaver, who plays Bobby Singer on The CW’s SUPERNATURAL). Carter is suspicious of Sharpe, while Edith notes his antiquated and tattered clothing. Soon after, Edith is again warned to “Beware of Crimson Peak…”
A perhaps unavoidable romance blossoms between Edith and Sharpe, despite the wishes that he and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain, THE MARTIAN) leave town. This leads Sharpe to take Edith back to his manor in England, dubbed, yes, Crimson Peak. Wasn’t she specifically told to beware of Crimson Peak?
CRIMSON PEAK is partly a nod to classic romance novels, but mostly a tribute to the sort of ghost tales that would have intrigued its (co-)writer/director, Guillermo del Toro. This is a moody picture built in a world of shadows, creaks, cold winds, bumps in the night (and day) and all else that would give a film like CRIMSON PEAK its atmosphere.
Those familiar with the works of Guillermo del Toro (whether through HELLBOY or THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE or PAN’S LABYRINTH) will be aware that there will be a visual feast before them. And certainly, like most of his other films, his latest is a display of stellar cinematography (by Dan Laustsen, who lensed MIMIC for del Toro nearly two decades ago), music (by Fernando Velázquez, 2007’s THE ORPHANAGE), production design (by Thomas E. Sanders, who earned Oscar nods for his work on SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and DRACULA), art direction (by Brandt Gordon, who won an Emmy for his work on GREY GARDENS) and costumes (by Kate Hawley, who worked for del Toro on PACIFIC RIM). (The art direction and costumes earned nods from their respective guilds.)
But outside of those aspects, CRIMSON PEAK often lacks depth. There are black widowers, forbidden rooms, Victorian estates, psycho siblings and hush-hush family secrets, all additions that have been depicted many times before, and many times better. It is like a collection of the clichés that del Toro has come across in his lifetime of gorging on similar literature, film and art.
CRIMSON PEAK isn’t particularly compelling and is brimming with predictable characters and scenarios that reveal the film as far less complex as it might want to present itself as. But it is still an absolute pleasure to look at and listen to, which just might be enough for del Toro this time.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is a gorgeous-looking film and this transfer highlights all of the wonderful cinematography, production design, costumes, etc. Details are strong, textures are rich, colors are accurate and black levels are deep.
Audio: English DTS:X 7.1; English DTS Headphone:X 2.0; English Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish DTS Surround 5.1; French DTS Surround 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The audio is very effective, building just the atmosphere that the film requires through stellar music and sound effects.
Feature commentary with co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro: Del Toro offers a thorough commentary in which he discusses his influences, the production, technical aspects and much more. Fans of del Toro and/or CRIMSON PEAK will be delighted by this track.
I Remember CRIMSON PEAK: Housed here are four featurettes: The Gothic Corridor (4:06), The Scullery (4:24), The Red Clay Mines (5:18) and The Limbo Fog Set (5:42), which delve into their respective locations and the role they play in the film.
A Primer on Gothic Romance (5:36): Del Toro, Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston discuss the genre and its characteristics.
The Light and Dark of CRIMSON PEAK (7:53): Del Toro, set decorator Shane Vieau and more discuss the look and style of the film.
Hand Tailored Gothic (8:58): The costumes of CRIMSON PEAK are given the spotlight.
A Living Thing (12:11): This featurette looks at the design and construction of the titular estate.
Beware of Crimson Peak (7:51): Hiddleston hosts a tour of the mansion.
Crimson Phantoms (7:02) looks at the ghosts that haunt Crimson Peak.