The Film (5/5)
There are quite a few directors working today whose work flips between the Hollywood mainstream, and independent fare. However, I can think of no director with a more distinct visionary style that flips that coin so seamlessly than Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro. Since Del Toro's debut one-two punch of Cronos and Mimic the director has come out with a style distinctly his own that has worked well both in his smaller independent works, and in larger productions. His last film the Mecha vs. Kaiju epic Pacific Rim may have been the most un-Del Toro of his work, but still managed to retain many of the directors personal hallmarks.
He has now returned with Crimson Peak, a film that feels more of a return to form for the director. It is also a film that was misrepresented in the press as a haunted house film, but is more akin to a gothic romance along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca or Antonio Margheriti's The Long Hair of Death. The film certainly features hauntings, ghosts, and scares, but that is certainly not the primary purpose for its existence.
The film stars Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing (subtle nod, Mr. Del Toro) an aspiring novelist in turn of the 20th century New York state. Her Father, Carter, is a rich businessman, who finds himself dealing with the Sharpe siblings from rural England, whose business is mining for red clay. Things have become difficult for the Sharpes in recent decades, and they have been searching the world for a financial benefactor to fund their continued operation, and the building of a machine that Thomas knows will drill deeper into the ground and assist in the continued mining of the family's clay.
Carter knows the investment is bad, and will not invest nor desire to deal with the Sharpes. Regardless, Thomas Sharpe begins to pursue Edith, and they fall in love. This angers Carter, and he pays off Thomas and his sister to leave, but before they can fully depart, he is murdered leaving Edith an orphan in charge of her Father's assets. Thomas, takes this opportunity to wed Edith and move her in with his sister into their dilapidated English mansion nicknamed Crimson Peak for the color the snow on the property turns in winter. It turns out that Edith was warned in years past by the spirit of her deceased Mother, never to go to Crimson Peak, and now that she is there she begins to discover why she was not to go.
I didn't see Crimson Peak until the Blu-ray release arrived at my door, but had I seen it while it was in theaters it would have easily been one of my favorite releases of 2015. The film is a visually stunning affair, but this is no surprise coming from Del Toro who has been sharpening his visual skills from his very first film. The film has a cold gothic style that will remind viewers of more popular cinema of Francis Ford Coppola's film Bram Stoker's Dracula. The film utilizes garish blues and reds in a way that channels Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and there are nice call backs to films ranging from the Changeling, The Haunting, the Innocents and more. There was even a moment toward the end of the film with the director paying homage to his own prior work in the genre.
The performances from the cast were absolutely marvelous . Mia Wasikowska is subtle, but excellent as Edith, and proves she is someone to continue keeping an eye on. For fans of gothic horror Crimson Peak is nothing new, but it takes an old formula and updates it quite nicely.
Universal presents Crimson Peak in a splendid 1:85:1 1080 p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer preserving the films intended aspect ratio. The transfer here is completely solid, and very likely replicates what was seen in theaters. The level of detail is excellent throughout, black levels are inky and deep, and Del Toro's colors are bright and render well on screen.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track in English and it sound quite incredible with dialogue, score, and ambient sound presented clearly with nice separation. I did not detect any issues with the track.
Universal included a nice slate of extras for their release of Crimson Peak. The disc kicks off with a commentary by Del Toro himself that is brisk and nicely informative. We then have deleted scenes, and various featurettes that detail the making of the film from different aspects and even one that has Del Toro giving a primer on the genre.
Crimson Peak is one of my favorite film of 2015, now that I've seen it in 2016. It is a chilly gothic romance, that has loads to recommend it by. The Blu-ray from Universal looks and sound amazing, and has a nice slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.