Crimson Peak (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

May 22, 2024 11 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When it comes to the films of Guillermo Del Toro, I’d say I’m a passing fan. That’s not to say that I don’t admire his films, I think he’s got a great eye for design and detail, it’s just that the movies he’s made aren’t really up my alley. Well, ok, I will admit that Pacific Rim is a guilty pleasure. Who doesn’t like robots battling 300 feet monsters from outer space. I mean come on! And, admittedly, I do like the Hellboy films too. Ok, so maybe I’m more of a fan than I originally thought. Still, when it comes to gothic horror films, the genre is quite limited. I’m actually not even sure what constitutes a gothic horror film. But when I saw the cast and director it certainly begged to be seen. Tom Hiddleston, best-known for his performance as Loki in Thor and The Avengers, Jessica Chastain and  Mia Wasikowska who’s run the gamut doing every English period piece you can imagine (Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary and Stoker to name a few). Haunted houses. Crimson ghosts. This will either be great or a waste of time. Let’s see which.

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is an aspiring writer, but her works are dismissed due to her sex. The daughter of a wealthy businessman (Jim Beaver), she’s expected to embrace society and eventually marry well. Clearly she’s not one for convention. As fate would have it, a dashing man by the name of Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) comes into town looking for finances for his invention. Together with his sister (Jessica Chastain), the two make an indelible impression, though Thomas is denied his funding. After an “unfortunate accident”, Edith heads to the outskirts of London to be with Thomas and Lucille (Chastain), her family fortune being transferred to them. While there, she experiences visions, gets ill and tries to comprehend a house that seemingly oozes red clay out of the floor and walls. Believing more nefarious affairs are in order, Edith starts to figure out that the Sharpes might not be what they claim to be. Can she escape while she’s still able or will is her fate sealed?

I told myself that I’d stop writing synopsis like that and ending with a question as to what would happen. Still, I felt that it was appropriate in this case. I’d referenced the “gothic horror” genre in the introductory paragraph and I suppose that if one movie I’ve seen embodies it, it’s got to be this one. I’m reminded of a movie I saw a few years back called Beautiful Creatures, though I’m not sure if that qualifies. Still, after watching this film and having a few days to reflect on it, I will say that it is one that stays with you. So many films are erased from my memory the second the credits roll, but there was something about this one. I really can’t put my finger on it. Is it Guillermo Del Toro’s best?  I think not. But it’s nice to see Jessica Chastain play the antagonist (I don’t think I’m giving anything away with that statement, anyone can figure it out after about 5 minutes of her on screen) and Hiddleston do what he does best – the charming devil who may or may not be up to no good. Ultimately it’s up to the viewer, but this is an interesting film to be sure.

Video: How’s it look?

Visually-speaking, there’s a lot going on in this film. Granted, we’ve got the typical “Guillermo Del Toro’ish” standby’s (butterflies abound), but the general look and feel is very gothic. That’s what we’d expect of a gothic film. Flesh tones are washed out, then Chastain, Hiddleston and Wasikowska are pretty pale-skinned to begin with.  The ghosts have a very unique look to them as well, the best way I can describe them is that they are akin to giant twizzlers. Yes, I realize that’s an odd way to describe a ghost, but the texture on them really reminded me of one of my favorite candies. Some scenes seemed dipped in yellow for a more golden hue, but when they get across the pond, things become a bit more placid. Needless to say that the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K encoded image is everyone we’d expect it to be and does not disappoint.

Audio: How’s it sound?

There’s a moment in this movie that made me jump out of my seat. Ok, I was actually halfway up anyway, but I really love how the sound was used in this film. It’s subtle, yet embraces the viewer and draws them into the film. Certainly the DTS HD Master Audio track has a few surprises here and there, and another scene that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Vocals are rich and crisp, we get to hear all sorts of British and American accents that mesh well together.  Surrounds are used with great effect, vocals surge out of the center channel and the LFE even have a few moments to shine. It’s a very interesting mix.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Interview with Guillermo Del Toro – A Spanish interview with the director. He discusses the major influences on the film and some of the ideas and characters in the script. He also discusses the feminine element of the film.
  • The House is Alive: Constructing Crimson Peak – A newly-edited documentary on the film featuring numerous interviews and behind the scenes footage. This piece is very good and goes into great detail about the costumes, lighting, and set design. Fans who like to see how the productions are made will be able to really dig into this piece.
  • Kim Newman on Crimson Peak and the Tradition of Gothic Romance   A new filmed interview with critic Kim Newman.
  • Violence and Beauty in Guillermo Del Toro’s Gothic Fairy Tale Films   An essay by critic Kay Ellinger. Kay is very knowledgeable and this is a well-done piece. This overview of Del Toro’s work’s themes is pretty spot-on.
  • Trailers – International, Theatrical, and TV Spots
  • Image Gallery
  • Deleted Scenes
    • The Park
    • Thomas’ Presentation
    • Father Consoles Daughter
    • Thomas Sees a Ghost
    • Lucille at the Piano
  • Allersdale Hall: Four Featurettes (titled I Remember Crimson Peak on the Universal Blu-ray) – This four-part feature examines four of the key locations of the film and the thought processes behind them.
    • The Gothic Corridor
    • The Scullery
    • The Red Clay Mines
    • The Limbo Fog Set
  • A Primer on Gothic Romance – a brief discussion on the genre and how it differs from gothic horror.
  • The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak -: this excellent piece discusses set design and the use of color in the film.
  • Hand Tailored Gothic – a piece on the costume design in the film.
  • A Living Thing – a good feature on the design aspects of Allerdale Hall and how it was put together.
  • Beware of Crimson Peak – a tour through Allerdale Hall with Tom Hiddleston.
  • Crimson Phantoms – a great look at the effects used in the film for the ghosts. I love the amount of thought that Del Toro puts into these effects and that he relies heavily on practical effects.
  • Audio Commentary – Del Toro gives an excellent commentary track to the film. His discussion of the film covers technical aspects, autobiographical aspects of the film, and what inspired the script. This is a very well-done track.
  • The House is Alive: Constructing Crimson Peak – This new 50 minute documentary is a new feature, though it seems somewhat spliced together from other supplements. It’s nice to have, to be sure, but I found it a bit redundant.
  • An Interview with Guillermo del Toro – Is just that. This 9 minute interview with the acclaimed director is another welcome addition though if you’re not up to date on your Spanish, you’ll need the included subtitles.
  • Kim Newman on Crimson Peak and the Tradition of Gothic Romance – Another new 18 minute feature from this critic dives into the world of Del Toro and his particular style of films he makes.
  • Violence and Beauty in Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic Fairy Tale Films – This is more of a commentary on the films of Del Toro (similar to the above) serving more as a visual essay than anything else.

The Bottom Line

Crimson Peak is essentially a flawed masterpiece. It is such a beautiful film that I can move past the problems with some clunky dialogue and predictability. Fans of Gothic romance will be thrilled by the film. It is one of the most beautifully realized and imaginative films that Del Toro has achieved. Arrow Video have provided an amazing array of supplements. The supplements last for over four hours if you factor in the audio commentary track. The technical merits of the film are excellent.

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