Blu-ray Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

December 23, 2018

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) has a hell of a history with ghosts. As a child she was visited by the nightmarish specter of her recently deceased mother who warns her of the dangers of Crimson Peak…whatever the unholy hell that is. Flash forward, and ol’ Edith is hoping to become the Victorian age’s the next Mary Shelley. Soon a mysterious stranger; the enigmatic Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) blows into town and wins Edith’s heart, much to the ire of her father (Jim Beaver). Well soon daddy dearest suffers an “accident” after finding out a sinister secret concerning Sharpe and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and Edith is whisked away to Sharpe’s dilapidated English manor, Allerdale Hall, as his blushin’ bride. Of course those pesky spirits keep appearing to our heroine, and things are definitely most foul at that arcane abode…and the surrounding land nicknamed Crimson Peak! Will Edith survive her stay within those haunted walls, or come to join the ghosts that reside there?
Filled with a metric-ton of Gothic romance ambiance and tropes, terrifying specters, a naive (yet supernaturally sensitive) heroine, and a lurid color palette that would make Basil Gogos blush; Crimson Peak is, simply put, the greatest Hammer horror film never made…and with maestro of the macabre Guillermo Del Toro that comes as little surprise, as the English fright flick studio has inspired and informed his career for decades. Every image in the film is so sumptuous and artfully realized, every ghost so unique and hypnotically grotesque (played superbly by Del Toro creature performer mainstay Doug Jones as well as Javier Botet), and every actor so pitch perfect in their roles that the film is nothing short of a cinematic and artistic triumph. Now that is no small statement…especially since I haven’t mentioned the house itself yet! Allerdale Hall is the ultimate Gothic abode; rotting yet decadent, filled with secrets and taboo…hell, the walls and land surrounding the manse seem to “bleed” due to the red mineral rich clay that the house is slowly sinking into…a real hell-house jutting from the landscape like a black cancer reaching to a slate grey sky.
As amazing a film as Crimson Peak is, the extras contained in this release from Arrow Video are extraordinary as well. First up we get an incredibly detail-rich commentary from Del Toro where he covers all aspects of the film’s creation from his influences to aesthetic choices and more…an absolutely essential listen for any fan of the film. Following that comes a newly edited documentary that explores the production of the film, a previously unreleased Spanish language (subtitled in English) interview with Del Toro concerning the film, a series of four featurettes detailing various sections of Allerdale Hall, a discussion of the tropes of Gothic romance featuring Del Toro and the film’s stars, a look at the film’s use of color, a featurette on costuming, a further investigation into the creation of Allerdale followed by a tour of the set with Hiddleston, a featurette spotlighting those preternatural creatures roaming the halls of that damned abode (my fav of the featurettes offered, ‘natch). Next comes a new interview with author and critic Kim Newman where he discusses the history of Gothic romance in cinema, an excellent video essay by Kat Ellinger examining violence and beauty in Del Toro’s fairy tale film making, a collection of deleted scenes, trailers and TV spots, and image galleries… and all of this comes under a sleeve featuring artwork by legendary comic book artist Guy Davis (Baker St., The Marquis)!
Without a doubt one of the best Gothic thrillers ever made, and one of Del Toro’s top-tier masterpieces (with
Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Shape of Water comprising the rest of the upper-echelon of the man’s work…though all of his output is admittedly amazing), Crimson Peak is a must own for lovers of Victorian paranormal yarns and Hammer films alike!


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