HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Crimson Peak
HTS Overall Score:93
Guillermo Del Toro is basically music to my ears. The minute I heard he was back at the helm with another ghost story I was instantly in full puppy dog mode, ears pointed forward and head cocked to the side dancing in excitement. The movie was originally scheduled to come out in October 2014, but unfortunately Del Toro couldn’t complete the film until about December, so Universal delayed the release by nearly a year so that it come out for Halloween 2015. I personally missed it in theaters due to an over glut of films to watch and not enough time or this thing called “money”. However I was almost glad when I heard that this would be the first time that Universal dipped it’s toes into the DTS:X object based format and was extremely excited to see this on home video. Thankfully Del Toro does not disappoint, although he almost pulls an M. Knight Shyamalan twist as the film seemed to be marketed as a scary ghost story. That’s really how it seems to play out, until you start looking at the hints closer, and the clues lay out the true nature of the film.
Edith Cushing (Mia) is a countercultural girl living in a heavy time for a woman. She’s against love and definitely not liked by her peers, but she’s a strong independent woman who is doted on by a loving father (Jim Beaver, of “Supernatural” fame). As a young girl Mia was visited by a terrifying visage of her dead mother who warned her to “beware of Crimson Peak”. Forever changed, Mia’s cynical nature gets the better of her and her heart is rather guarded. Even writing her own ghost story, she is criticized for not making it feminine enough, and encouraged rather harshly to put a romance in the story. This all changes when a young Baronet from England named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) come to town in an effort to gain funding for his new mining machine. Met with scathing hostility from a suspicious father, Thomas is turned down, but not before his eye catches hold of Edith.
Before long a romance between the two blossoms and Edith’s barriers are slowly swept away. However, it doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that daddy dearest’s fears may not be unfounded. A mysterious document shows up that he can use as blackmail against the two foreigners, which forces their devious hand. After her father turns up mysteriously dead, Edith expresses her grief to Thomas, wherein the two are married, against the advice of Edith’s childhood friend (and crush), Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam). Swept away to England, Edith finds out just how dedicated Thomas is to his work, and the eccentricities of living in a drafty old castle/mansion. Though Edith is in love, the clues start to build up and the hints are dropped and soon enough Edith’s blinders start to peel off. Her childhood ghost experience is not exactly a once time deal, as the young woman’s supernatural abilities allow her to see the ghosts of several tortured creatures. Creatures that very well may hold the key to unraveling the mystery of who Thomas and Lucille are, and why he married her in the first place.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64602[/img]“Crimson Peak” was originally billed as a ghost story by all the trailers, and even word of mouth seemed to intimate that it is a true ghost story at heart. The actuality of the matter is that this is a gothic horror/romance that carries traces of ghosts in the film to tell the tale. As Edith herself said about her own novel “It’s a story with ghosts in it, not a ghost story”. At its heart the movie is a gothic mystery that lays enough clues down to clue you in to the actual ending, but keeps the cards close enough to the vest to incite confusion until the last act of the movie. Edith is a naïve young girl, which helps the duplicitous Thomas Sharpe and wooing her off her feet, but once they get back to Allerdale hall in England do the true gloves come off. I am trying VERY hard not to reveal any heavy spoilers in this review, but some may slip through otherwise I’d never be able to talk about the film. It’s densely packed with nuances, yet still suffers a bit from the dialog, which actually surprises me. Del Toro is usually a master of dialog, but here the script sometimes seems disingenuously floral and simplistic. The dialog is true to the period, but seems overly flowery and goofy at times. Like we were watching a Jane Austin film, but without the intensely descriptive sentence structure or the panache.
However, as weak as that may be, the film is INTENSE. Del Toro is always a visual master, and here is no different. The ambiance of the mansion and the red clay infested grounds is nothing short of amazing. His use of CGI would seem awkward and fake to anyone else, but he uses a heavy paintbrush on this canvas to just saturate his world with intense colors and gothic architecture to build a vivid and surreal world for Edith to reside in. Even his ghosts are wild and completely terrifying. They remind me a bit of the monsters in “Pans Labyrinth” combined with a mixture of “Blade II” and “The Woman in Black”. Twisted and horrifying they creep and walk like a “Silent Hill” monster in a way that would make even the most seasoned horror hound wince a little bit”.
The layers that unfold are fantastic until the very end. The first time I watched the ending I started getting a bit disappointed. I had a whole “the house needs to feed on souls!” vibe and that was hinted at blatantly for the majority of the movie, but the ending pulls an M. Knight Shyamalan on us and changes the true motivations and actions of the villains. On second viewing I started really picking up the nuances and clues strewn throughout the film to see just why Del Toro pulled that wool out and over the eyes. With that in mind I felt much more comfortable with the twisted ending. It’s more human and terrifying really. As Edith said “it’s not a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts in it” and if you keep that in mind the twist is so much more delectable and evil. Hiddleston plays the tormented character of Thomas Sharpe to a T, as his Shakespearean acting allows him to play the aristocrat with ease. You’re never sure whether he truly cares for Edith or whether he’s the giant mastermind behind all of this, but Jessica Chastain as Lucille is something to behold. She is pure evil from the start and the ice cold water that runs through her veins makes the incredibly beautiful Chastain seem disturbingly unattractive, despite all of the fancy clothes. I’m not usually a fan of Mia Wasikowska, but she played Edith well, despite being the weak link in the chain.
Rated R for bloody violence, some sexual content and brief strong language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64610[/img]After viewing “Crimson Peak” on Blu-ray I’m kind of wishing that I was able to see this visual masterpiece in an ultra hi-def IMAX theater. It just SCREAMS beauty at every turn. Shot completely digitally, “Crimson Peak” is a razor sharp film that oozes ambiance and texture. The film uses a homogenous blend of CGI and practical effects to create a super exaggerated environment for the characters. The red clay oozes down the walls of Allerdale mansion with the texture and look of heavily saturated blood. The white snow glistens in the dark air, looking like its crisp and clean enough to come out of a “Lord of the Rings” movie. The gothic walls press in from all sides, with a deep layer of black that just saturates the entire film. Black levels are at peak condition, showing everything you need to see in the dark, while feeling like a thick blanket that covers every square inch of the place. Colors are WILDLY saturated, so much so that everything looks almost like a well done animation at times, especially the reds and blacks. The clarity and fine detail is absolutely magnificent, allowing us to see every fiber on the ancient 1901 clothing, and the every line is Jessica Chastain’s beautiful face. I noticed a softening on Mia’s face, but it fits with the movie very well and doesn’t appear to be a flaw in the transfer. Especially one as artifact free as this one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64618[/img]Right now there has only been three DTS:X object based audio tracks out on the market and all of those have come from Lionsgate films. This is the first time that Universal has stepped into the DTS:X market and makes it the 4th title in the U.S. so far to come out on the Atmos competitor’s format. Sadly the firmware to give me DTS:X FULL capabilities is not out yet, so that means the DTS-HD MA 7.1 core is what I will have to review. Even without the object based surround changes, “Crimson Peak” sounds absolutely flawless on Blu-ray. The visual ambiance is not the only ambiance at play here, as Del Toro’s mix envelops the viewer into the center of a gothic mansion, complete with creaking stairs, the rattling of old changes and the house “breathing” in such a way that you feel like the air just wooshed up around your feet. Dialog is never under any negative effects and is well balanced with the powerful score and creepy effects. Surrounds are used with the utmost mastery, shifting direction at will and making every individual creak and grown of house Allerdale into a sonic cocoon of sound. Each sound is distinct and clear, making it ever so obvious the distinction between sounds as well as a pounding layer of LFE that digs deep and hits HARD at more than one occasion. Simply perfect.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64626[/img]• I Remember ""Crimson Peak""
• A Primer on Gothic Romance
• Hand Tailored Gothic
• A Living Thing
• Crimson Phantom
• Keys to Deciphering ""Crimson Peak"": By Guillermo Del Toro
• Deleted Scenes
• Beware of ""Crimson Peak""
• The Light and Dark of ""Crimson Peak""
• Feature Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro
“Crimson Peak” is not exactly what the trailers advertised, but it is completely Del Toro to the core. Twisted monsters and a gothic setting allow for his distinctly unique visual style to come into play, and the movie itself is multilayered enough to get several repeat viewings in quick succession if you like. The twist through me for a loop in the 3rd act, so much that I felt disappointed with the ending on first watch, but I find that upon subsequent viewings the ending grows on you quite quickly and makes for an even better ending than the one I thought I had pinpointed 40 minutes earlier and was expecting. Good horror rarely “scares” anyone anymore, but the macabre and the experience of the atmosphere is the general appeal. In that I have to say that Del Toro and crew achieved with fantastic results. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Written by: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS:X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 Core), English DTS Headphone: X, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 119 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 9th 2016
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