Guillermo del Toro‘s Crimson Peak is a beautiful piece of Gothic horror/romance destined to look stunning on any home video format. It’s just that gorgeous. While it looks pretty on streaming or DVD, though, it looks best on high-definition Blu-ray. You may already own one from a few years back, but if you’re a big enough fan it might just be time to upgrade. Arrow Video’s new limited edition release is a fairly stunning affair assembled with love for the film and del Toro, and I recently had the opportunity to dig into it.
Keep reading for a look at Arrow’s new Blu-ray of Crimson Peak.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) welcomes the early years of the 20th century with optimism, creativity, and love for her father. All of it begins to crumble, though, when her writing ambitions are squashed by sexism and ignorance and her father dies under mysterious and grisly circumstances. She inherits his wealth just in time to share it with her new husband, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), and soon the pair head back to his English estate to rejoin his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) in reviving the family’s clay-mining business. Edith isn’t there long before she begins to suspect her new hubby isn’t quite on the up and up. The house has a gaping hole in the roof — leaves fall in through the exposed four-story ceiling despite there being no trees nearby let alone ones approaching even one-third that height — and a basement she’s forbidden to enter. Oh, and there are also those pesky ghosts.
Del Toro’s films are never less than exquisite in their visual design and execution, and Crimson Peak is easily his most beautiful creation yet. From the costumes to the general cinematography the film is a true work of art, and the house’s appearance both inside and out is its own special triumph. Details in the architecture are surpassed only by those in the production design, and beautifully crafted ghosts and gory bloodletting only enhance the sensory appeal further. Performances are strong — Charlie Hunnam aside, I’m sorry I cannot be persuaded otherwise — and the tale builds to a satisfyingly violent conclusion.
Far less attractive, though, is the script (co-written with Matthew Robbins) which feels compelled to tell viewers everything in nearly as much detail. Oh, ghosts are reminders of the past? You don’t say. (Sadly, a character does literally say this in a movie filled with ghosts.) Every element is heightened to ridiculous degrees, and while the film’s quantification as a Gothic romance — don’t call it horror! — specifically requires certain narrative beats the result is an utterly gorgeous pastiche rather than an original creation. That’s fine if your love for the sub-genre is strong enough that you’re happy seeing a checklist made beautiful, but viewers looking for a movie with engaging characters and story turns might be disappointed. It’s ultimately a film where every frame is frame-worthy, but as gorgeous of a movie as it is the pieces are greater than the whole.
Arrow Videos’ new limited edition release of the film takes a slightly different tact in delivering something that’s both beautiful and packed with terrific content. It comes in a sharp hard case with a lid that opens to reveal its goodies. We get a double-sided fold-out poster, character lobby cards, and a killer 80-page hardback book featuring essays, sketches, and photos. The Blu-ray disc itself includes trailers, a gallery, and the following special features.
- Commentary with writer/director Guillermo del Toro
- *NEW* The House Is Alive: Constructing Crimson Peak [50:01] – Arrow’s newly constructed making-of explores the film’s production through interviews with cast & crew as well as glimpses behind the scenes and into early production sketches. It’s not new footage from what I can tell as it’s instead a detailed collection of bits from various other elements (including older featurettes included on the disc).
- An Interview with Guillermo del Toro [8:36] – A previously unseen Spanish-language interview on the film.
- Allerdale Hall: Four Featurettes – The Gothic Corridor [4:07] sees del Toro describe the childhood inspiration behind the beautifully menacing hallway where the ghost crawls upward from the floor, The Scullery [4:25] explores the design and action in the house’s kitchen, The Red Clay Mines [5:19] goes deep with the nightmare that is the basement, and The Limbo Fog Set [5:43] allows del Toro the opportunity to explain the idea behind the snowy, foggy finale.
- A Primer on Gothic Romance [5:37] – Cast and crew discuss the origin of the gothic romance genre and its applications here.
- The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak [7:54] – The use of color is discussed as it’s applied throughout the production design, locales, and more.
- Hand Tailored Gothic [8:59] – Costumes are the focus here with a look behind del Toro’s intent on the clothing front.
- A Living Thing [12:12] – We get a detailed look at the design and construction of the house at the heart of the film.
- Beware of Crimson Peak [7:52] – Tom Hiddleston leads a walking tour of the house set.
- Crimson Phantoms [7:03] – The film’s ghosts come to life from design through execution.
- *NEW* Kim Newman on Crimson Peak and the Tradition of Gothic Romance [17:37] – The acclaimed author explores del Toro’s genre affections.
- *NEW* Violence and Beauty in Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic Fairy Tale Films [23:37] – Writer Kat Ellinger provides a video essay on the film.
- Deleted Scenes [4:41]
Buy Arrow’s Crimson Peak limited edition Blu-ray from Amazon.