Crimson Peak (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: May 14, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Crimson Peak (4K UHD Review)


Guillermo del Toro

Release Date(s)

2015 (May 21, 2024)


Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures (Arrow Video)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A+
  • Extras Grade: A-

Crimson Peak (4K UHD)



Gothic romance and horror can be traced back to over a century ago, and these genre trappings have been a useful tool to someone like Guillermo del Toro, who’s used them in both print and on the screen since he began telling stories. 2015’s Crimson Peak seemed to be his ultimate expression of them with expansive sets, period costumes, and extremely stylized color and lighting. However, this unfortunately did not equate to box office success, barely earning back its budget and receiving middling critical reviews. Many horror fans embraced it, others dismissed it, but there’s no denying that Guillermo del Toro is nothing if not an aggressive visualist and storyteller.

Taking place in the early 20th century, Crimson Peak tells the story of young Edith (Mia Wasikowska), who has been haunted by ghosts since the death of her mother as a child, feeling the need to write stories about them. After the death of her father and falling in love with and marrying a clay-mining aristocrat named Thomas (Tom Hiddleston), she moves with him and his unusual sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) into their dilapidated home in England. Not only has the house fallen to rack and ruin due to the red clay seeping into the building’s structure while Thomas’ new invention mines it out of the earth, but it’s also haunted as restless spirits wander its dark and decaying corridors, subsequently attempting to warn Edith of an unknown and unseen danger.

Crimson Peak is one of the most colorful and meticulously-crafted genre films in recent memory. Most modern horror films suck the color out of their palettes, whereas Crimson Peak is rich with bold primaries and aggressive uses of gold, brown, and white. It’s also designed to a T, with amazing architecture and costumes on display. In other words, it’s an absolutely lush and visually-engaging piece of work. On the other hand, the narrative lacks the same sort of panache. It’s a fairly predictable story, and if you’re any kind of film fan, you’ll likely guess the twists long before they occur. This makes for an interesting conundrum since so few mainstream filmmakers go so aggressively after specific artistic visions—it’s something to not just be commended, but appreciated and celebrated.

Fortunately for the filmmakers, that doesn’t appear to be much of an issue for many viewers. Most look past the film’s failings and can’t get over its visuals. This makes Crimson Peak not so much a failure as an arresting work of art, comparable to Italian horror films of yesteryear from directors like Mario Bava, whom the film was highly compared to upon its initial release. For me personally, I’ve downgraded it a degree since I last saw it as I still have the same issues with it, but taking nothing away from how it looks.

Crimson Peak was captured by cinematographer Dan Laustsen digitally in the ARRIRAW (2.8K) Codex format with Arri Alexa XT cameras and Zeiss Master Prime lenses, and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Arrow Video returns to this title for a third time, but now with its 4K Ultra HD debut. No information about the transfer is available, other than it was supplied by NBC/Universal, meaning it’s an upscaled 4K master, now graded for High Dynamic Range in HDR10 and Dolby Vision with final approval by Guillermo del Toro, and presented on a triple-layered BD-100 disc. Encoding duties have been carried about David Mackenzie of Fidelity in Motion, and it certainly shows in the final results as there’s nary an artifact in sight, with bitrates reaching the upper 90s at times. As this is an upscaled source, improvements are marginal, but noticeable, particularly in the further depths of the image. The new color grades further enhance the aggressive palette with even deeper blacks and improved contrast. It’s also a slightly sharper image, losing some of the softness from the previous Blu-ray, though some still remains, particularly in the CGI. As I noted in my review of Arrow’s Blu-ray release, the film has a very distinctive look, and any visual flaws that it contains, such as crushed blacks, are an inherent part of that look. It’s beautiful, and the minor upticks in detail and color make it a very fine upgrade, though not everyone may agree. Your mileage may vary.

Audio options include English 7.1 DTS-X, English 2.0 DTS-X for headphones, and an English 2.0 DVS audio track. Optional subtitles in English SDH are also included. The 7.1 track is a terrific surround sound experience. Dialogue is mostly front and center, save for the few times when it’s mixed into the other speakers. The same goes for sound effects, as well as the score, giving the rear speakers impressive fidelity. Spatial activity is abundant, with events frequently occurring all around. Ambience and LFE also play an important role in giving Allerdale Halle and its surroundings their aural personality.

Crimson Peak on 4K Ultra HD sits in beautiful and sturdy book-like packaging with artwork by Guy Davis. Inside is a double-sided, fold-out poster featuring two of the film’s theatrical poster artworks on either side; four double-sided postcards of the main characters; and a slipcover housing an 80-page hard-bound book containing cast and crew information, the essays Melancholy and the Maiden: Notes on Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak by David Jenkins, A Satellite of Meaning: The Production and Costume Design of Crimson Peak by Simon Abrams, Ghost Hunter: An Interview with Guillermo del Toro by Mar Diestro-Dópido, Crimson Peak Reviewed by Kim Newman—which appeared in the December 2015 issue of Sight & Sound magazine, several pages of original conceptual design illustrations by Guy Davis and Oscar Chichoni, presentation details, and a set of productions credits. The following disc-based, HD-sourced extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary with Guillermo del Toro
  • The House Is Alive: Constructing Crimson Peak (50:00)
  • An Interview with Guillermo del Toro (8:35)
  • Allderdale Halle (I Remember Crimson Peak):
    • The Gothic Corridor (4:06)
    • The Scullery (4:24)
    • The Red Clay Mines (5:18)
    • The Limbo Fog Set (5:42)
  • A Primer on Gothic Romance (5:36)
  • The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak (7:53)
  • Hand Tailored Gothic (8:58)
  • A Living Thing (12:11)
  • Beware of Crimson Peak (7:51)
  • Crimson Phantoms (7:02)
  • Kim Newman on Crimson Peak and the Tradition of Gothic Romance (17:36)
  • Violence and Beauty in Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic Fairy Tale Films (23:36)
  • Deleted Scenes:
    • The Park (HD – 1:02)
    • Thomas’ Presentation (HD – :57)
    • Father Consoles Daughter (HD – :48)
    • Thomas Sees a Ghost (HD – :50)
    • Lucille at the Piano (HD – 1:01)
  • Original Trailers and TV Spots:
    • US Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:35)
    • International Trailer (HD – 2:27)
    • TV Spots (HD – 2 in all – 1:04)
  • Image Galleries:
    • Production Stills (HD – 18 in all)
    • Behind the Scenes (HD – 17 in all)

There's nothing included here that wasn’t featured on the previous Blu-ray release, but this is still an excellent set of bonus materials, including the audio commentary with del Toro; The House Is Alive, a documentary about the making of the film that utilizes raw interview footage of the cast and crew that was shot during the film’s production, presenting it in a more interesting and favorable fashion; a Spanish-language interview with del Toro; Allerdale Hall (I Remember Crimson Peak), a set of four featurettes; A Primer on Gothic Romance, exploring the origins of the genre; The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak, which goes over the film’s use of color; Hand Tailored Gothic, detailing the film’s costume design; A Living Thing, which covers the design and construction of the Allerdale Hall set; Beware of Crimson Peak, a brief tour of the set with Tom Hiddleston; and Crimson Phantoms, a featurette about the film’s ghosts and their creation. Next is Kim Newman on Crimson Peak, an interview with the film historian about the Gothic romance genre; Violence and Beauty, a video essay by Kat Ellinger about the content of del Toro’s work and how it relates to literature and film; a set of five Deleted Scenes with a “Play All” option; the international and US theatrical trailers; 2 TV spots; and 2 Image Galleries containing 18 production stills and 17 behind-the-scenes photos.

There’s no way a genre fan can’t appreciate aspects of Crimson Peak, despite its weak narrative. It may be lacking, but it’s worth the price of admission for the visuals alone, and is still counted among del Toro’s most beautifully-conceived works. Arrow Video’s UHD upgrade offers a marginally improved picture and the same great extras and Limited Edition packaging. As such, Crimson Peak is worth another look in Ultra High Definition.

- Tim Salmons

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