Connect with us

Video

Blu-ray Review: Moonrise

As Hollywood films grow blunter and duller, Frank Borzage’s delicate humanism feels more alive and urgent than ever.

4.0

Published

on

Moonrise

Frank Borzage’s Moonrise doesn’t revel in individual actualization for its own sake, which distinguishes it from much of modern American cinema. Instead, Borzage is concerned with the intricate symbiotic relationships between individuals and society at large, refuting the self-absorption that typically governs a modern hero’s quest. Moonrise is less a violent film than a film about violence—one that’s occupied, in particular, with the lingering aftereffects of capital punishment. The film’s violent acts are intricately linked, each perpetuating the next in an expansive chain reaction.

An outsider in a small Virginia town, Danny Hawkins (Dane Clark) is haunted by his father’s execution by hanging. Growing up, children mocked him for this legacy, particularly Jerry Sykes (Lloyd Bridges), whom Danny beats to death in the film’s first act after weathering decades of abuse and torment. The murder is ambiguous—to an extent an act of self-defense, as Jerry corners Danny in the woods by the local lake, attacking him with a stone that Danny seizes and utilizes in an explosion of dormant rage. Danny hides Jerry’s body in a swamp and spends the rest of the narrative wrestling with this loss of control.

The film has a primordial sense of cause and effect that’s reminiscent of parables. The hanging of Danny’s father indirectly triggers the bludgeoning of Jerry years later, as the execution is the pretense for Danny and Jerry’s rivalry, serving as a representation of their class divide. One imagines that Jerry’s prominent banker father, J.B. (Harry Cheshire), would never be publically hung, no matter what crime he committed. This ritual tends to plague those of the working or nomadic classes, such as mountain people like Danny and his kin.

In turn, Jerry’s murder drives Danny to attack Billy Scripture (Harry Morgan), a defenseless mute who has a knife that places Danny at the scene of Jerry’s disappearance. Borzage intimately regards Danny as rage, panic, and remorse battle within him for supremacy over a matter of seconds, offering a study of a man’s struggle to transcend his demons for the sake of honoring a basic social contract. Danny manages to restrain himself, straightening Billy out on the latter’s cot, smoothing over Billy’s hair while the would-be victim looks at Danny with an uncomprehending gratitude that’s heartbreaking. Danny finds the knife and returns it to Billy, symbolically breaking the chain of violence.

Advertisement


Plenty of films concern the importance of empathy and the necessity of atonement; Frank Capra built a cottage industry out of redemption that continues to influence cinema. An unjustly obscure master, Borzage evaded the speechifying and sentimentality that mar the work of Capra and many others, examining at length the physical and emotional tolls of extending empathy. Moonrise dramatizes the challenges of honoring a delicate arrangement between not only humans but animals (whom Borzage also films with clear-eyed rapture), which is bound by law and common sense that can easily be perverted by entitled hucksters like Jerry.

Moonrise is a crushingly lonely film, poetic in ways that suggest a kind of Steinbeckian expressionism. Danny and Billy are outcasts who spend their time in swamps and abandoned mansions, dreaming of the respectability of the other side. The film was shot entirely on sets, which is evocatively obvious, plunging the audience into a subjective realm. We’re aware of the insularity of this town, of the stifling lack of fresh air. Every setting appears to exist onto itself, physicalizing Danny’s struggles to join human society. The sticky humid swamp conjures a sense of suffocation, just as a pond embodies the submerging of generational secrets. Later, Danny and the woman he loves, Gilly (Gail Russell), hide out in a dilapidated Confederate mansion, play-acting a scene that might be a half-remembered moment from Gone with the Wind.

Fantasies and associations comingle, as Danny’s murder merges with suggestions of the wars, genocides, and enslavements that forged a country that has yet to face its own legacy. Prismatic images bleed into one another, as evinced by a brilliant juxtaposition—between the hanging of Danny’s father and a silhouette of a doll that appears to be floating in baby Danny’s room—that boils a social imprinting down to a few hard, tangible totems. An elderly African-American man, Mose (Rex Ingram), lives in the swamp and councils Danny, and while nothing is explicitly made of Mose’s race, the tension surrounding his racial identity charges their scenes together, as this is a man who knows of estrangement and rejection. Speaking in rich, biblical cadences, Mose says that he gave up on humans, confessing that this might be the worst thing a man can do that isn’t punishable by law.

Moonrise has a fragile, wandering intensity. The film is obsessed by Danny’s isolation, which is understood to be partially illusory—more of a mental than a physical state. Borzage’s devotion to his protagonist’s alienation anticipates Paul Thomas Anderson’s similar kinship with his own wayward characters in The Master. Tarnished by a painful childhood, Danny can’t recognize the support system he’s found, and his guilt is a metaphor for his feelings of inferiority. If Danny is to confess to his murder of Jerry, he is to face his legacy and atone for his guilt as well as his self-loathing.

Advertisement


Danny’s awakening isn’t undertaken in isolation, as Borzage understands that we cannot be divorced from our surroundings; such a belief, even if reflective of doubt, is rooted in the sort of egotism that’s often gratified by films, TV, and politicians. By contrast, Danny is surrounded by confidantes who have the imagination to rise above their own prescribed roles in a small town. Sheriff Clem Otis (Allyn Joslyn) isn’t the usual noir bloodhound, but a surrogate priest who empathizes with Danny and recognizes the class strictures that have marginalized him. Gilly, a beautiful woman who represents mainstream acceptance to Danny, is also a kind of priest—and in one of the film’s most powerful scenes, a Ferris wheel car is likened to a confession booth.

Contemplative and transcendent, Moonrise underscores how genre formulas casually satisfy our prejudices to proffer an easy sense of catharsis and comfort. In many even ostensibly liberal films, killers are killers who need to be killed, while law enforcers are superficially flawed yet unshakable knights of security. Borzage offers a portrait of social maintenance that’s strained by the baggage of heartbreak, fantasy, inequality, and matters of miscommunication—by intrinsic humanity in other words.

Image/Sound

The image has a lush vibrancy that’s remarkable for any transfer, let alone of a film that turns 70 this year. Compositional clarity is healthy, emphasizing how backgrounds enclose characters, stifling and comforting them in unquantifiable ratios, and textures are vivid and subtle, which is important to a film that abounds in so many tactile symbols. Blacks are rich to the point of achieving viscosity, while whites are as sharp and precise as a pin needle. The monaural soundtrack is lush and multi-planed, paying especial heed to the intricate layering of wildlife sounds, which subliminally assert the film’s concern with a vast and primordial social balance.

Extras

A new conversation between author Hervé Dumont and film historian Peter Cowie offers a bit of context for viewers new to Frank Borzage’s work. The men discuss the filmmaker’s style, history, and how he came to shoot Moonrise for Republic Pictures and inventively use a low budget to his advantage. It’s a good, if disappointingly short, talk, though Philip Kemp’s essay elaborates on Borzage’s legacy. Kemp parses Moonrise’s symbolism while offering a shrewd analysis of Borzage’s career and reputation at large, which suffered as Hollywood lost interest in his brand of nuanced romanticism.

Overall

As Hollywood films grow blunter and duller, Frank Borzage’s delicate humanism feels more alive and urgent than ever, as evinced by the Criterion Collection’s superb restoration of Moonrise.

Cast: Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram, Harry Morgan, Harry Carey Jr., Selena Royle, Lloyd Bridges, Harry Cheshire Director: Frank Borzage Screenwriter: Charles F. Haas Distributor: The Criterion Collection Running Time: 90 min Rating: NR Year: 1948 Release Date: May 8, 2018 Buy: Video

Advertisement
Comments

Video

Blu-ray Review: Luciano Ercoli’s The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion

No fan or cinephile’s knowledge of the giallo would be complete without seeing Luciano Ercoli’s film.

4

Published

on

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion

In the opening scene of The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Minou (Dagmar Lassander) lies in a bathtub, taking a drag from a cigarette, telling herself in voiceover that today she’ll give up smoking, whiskey, and pills. These objectives aren’t for better health; rather, as Minou further states, they’re meant to appease her husband, Pier (Pier Paolo Capponi). Minutes later, Minou contemplates an alternative to giving up her vices: telling her husband that she wants a divorce. Minou’s oscillation between appeasing her husband and breaking away from him neatly establishes the film’s attention to reality versus possibility. Since Minou neither stops indulging her habits nor tells Pier that she’s leaving him, the film generates an underlying tension regarding Minou’s ability to act on behalf of herself that extends beyond the basic plot points of blackmail and potential murder that recur within Italian gialli throughout the 1970s.

Although the screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi and Mahnahén Velasco doesn’t make tensions between genders into a spoken theme, numerous scenes pit a woman’s word against an unbelieving man’s point of view. After Minou is accosted on the beach by an unnamed blackmailer (Simon Andreu) who claims that Pier is a murderer, she recounts the events to her husband, who immediately casts doubt upon the veracity of Minou’s story.

Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, from the same year as Forbidden Photos, is comparably absorbed by the (in)accuracy of eyewitness testimonies, though in that film’s case, the male protagonist is implicated as the attacker himself. Even Otto Preminger’s 1949 noir thriller Whirlpool, which also depicts men distrusting a woman’s perceptions, invests its dramatic stakes in whether or not that woman will be found guilty of murder. Conversely, director Luciano Ercoli emphasizes Minou’s role as a spectator to the deceit of the creditors and financiers who comprise Pier’s business. By eliminating the possibility of Minou’s being implicated in a crime, Forbidden Photos is able to take a playful, melodramatic tone that more fully explores the interior life of its female protagonist.

The film’s attention to Minou’s plight as a woman is redoubled with the appearance of Dominique (Susan Scott), whose liberated sensibilities free her from the anxieties about her body and sex that inform Minou’s apparently monogamous devotion to Pier. After the two become close, Dominique casually shows Minou nude photographs of herself as if they were mere snapshots from a summer vacation. Even when Minou realizes that her own blackmailer is a participant in Dominique’s photos, Forbidden Photos doesn’t get bogged down by its routine plot elements; while resolving the blackmailer’s identity and motivations are essential to the film’s resolution, Ercoli has more fun juxtaposing how the two women perceive themselves within the social fabric of ‘70s Rome.

Advertisement


In a memorable shot, the pair have lunch on the roof of a high-rise café overlooking the sea. Dressed in similar hats, coats, and skirts, the pair bond over their experiences as women in a city filled with desiring men. Their relationship comprises the film’s true center, something Ercoli tips his own hat to with a closing aerial shot of the two driving around a Rome that seems renewed with possibilities both sexual and professional.

It’s difficult to view Forbidden Photos and not see Scott as its greatest strength—something Ercoli apparently agreed with given that he cast her as the lead in his next two films, Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight. Ercoli’s vision of the giallo provides a thrilling B side to Argento’s own—one that’s much more engaged with how women navigate the terrain of marriage, sex, and their own happiness, even if that means, as its seems in the end of Forbidden Photos, waving goodbye to men altogether.

Image/Sound

Arrow Video’s 2K scan from a restoration of the original camera negative abounds in image clarity; as with Arrow’s previous releases of Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight, colors pop and flourish throughout, with nary a texturing flaw in sight. Whether showcasing a wide shot of Rome or a close-up of Minou preparing herself for Pier’s approval, the transfer displays a remarkable attention to detail. Grain remains consistent and present throughout; while there are sporadic instances of image defects, they’re minor and confined to a small blip or a slight crack, likely the result of irreparable damage to the negative. The Dolby Digital track comes in both monaural Italian or English and does a commendable job of balancing Ennio Morricone’s memorable score with crisp dialogue and Rome’s street noise.

Extras

A host of fine extras is highlighted by a feature commentary from critic Kat Ellinger, who contextualizes the film within the giallo tradition. Most helpfully, Ellinger distinguishes between the “F giallo” and the “M giallo,” which are designations meant to indicate whether a film has a female or male protagonist. “Private Pictures,” a newly edited documentary featuring archival interviews with Susan Scott and Luciano Ercoli, elaborates on how the film came into being and the impact it had on each of their respective careers. The documentary also features new interview material with Ernesto Gastaldi, who went on the pen numerous other gialli throughout the ‘70s. Musician Lovely Jon hosts a tour of music from Forbidden Photos and other ‘70s Italian cult cinema, supplementing his informed perspective with facts and trivia from the era. The disc also contains an interview from 2016 with Dagmar Lassander, original Italian and English theatrical trailers, and an image gallery.

Advertisement


Overall

No fan or cinephile’s knowledge of the giallo would be complete without seeing The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, which receives a lovely Blu-ray transfer and a slew of informative supplements from Arrow Video.

Cast: Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Simon Andreu, Susan Scott, Osvaldo Genazzani, Salvador Huguet Director: Luciano Ercoli Screenwriter: Ernesto Gastaldi, Mahnahén Velasco Distributor: Arrow Video Running Time: 96 min Rating: NR Year: 1970 Release Date: January 15, 2019 Buy: Video

Continue Reading

Video

Blu-ray Review: Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

A strong audio-visual transfer makes the long-awaited arrival of Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or winner to Blu-ray well worth the wait.

4

Published

on

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Corneliu Porumboiu’s 12:08 East of Bucharest, and Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days all advance the notion that time is of the essence in Romania. Set in 1987, two years before the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, Mungiu’s Palm d’Or-winning film has the urgency of a ticking bomb. Like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, the snarl of red tape sticks to everything, and while the tone here is less sarcastic, the cumulative effect of the film’s long shots—triumphs of concentrated minutiae and heightened performance—are every bit as haunting.

Luminița Gheorghiu, who appears in the film in a small role, passes the humanist baton of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu to Anamaria Marinca, who transforms the desperate struggle of her character, a college girl trying to help her roommate secure an abortion, into a stirring expression of female solidarity and empathy. Twice Otilia (Marinca) is told that her tech major will keep her from “being sent to the country”; she’s heard it all before, and the look on her face suggests a girl both used to and resentful of having to navigate the cruelties of a bureaucratic system. Much of the story follows Otilia as she tries to secure a hotel room for her friend, Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), and the film derives its disconcerting power from startling shifts in perspective and understated collisions of personality, as in the suffocating dinner conversation at the home of Otilia’s boyfriend, Adi (Alexandru Potocean).

Masters of horror should marvel at Mungiu’s canny deployment of red herrings: the pocketknife swiped by Otilia out of the abortionist’s briefcase in sudden fear, and the ID left by the man, Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), at the hotel’s front desk, whose method of operation suggests that of a torture program. Otilia and Gabita’s fear of being caught shapes every frame, though abortion isn’t so much the subject of the film as it is a jumping-off point. Like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, which is only outwardly about the difficulties of securing health care in modern-day Romania, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is an allegory that speaks to the struggles of freedom fighters gripped by the terror tactics of a political machine.

Image/Sound

Criterion’s color grading stays true to the drained palette of Oleg Mutu’s cinematography. The transfer is crisp across the board, highlighting the textures and acute visual details found throughout the film’s settings. The crumbling exteriors of buildings, cracked walls, and dimly lit hallways take on a vivid, expressive quality that further amplifies the increasingly horrific circumstances that the characters’ find themselves in. The 5.1 surround soundtrack cleanly presents the film’s dialogue, while discrete, off-screen sounds creep into the mix nicely, helping to convey a disconcerting sense of unease in several scenes, especially during the chaotic family dinner sequence at Adi’s house.

Advertisement


Extras

The beefiest extra here is an interview with film critic Jay Weissberg, who helps to contextualize the rise of the Romanian New Wave by charting the history of the Romanian film industry from the Nicolae Ceaușescu years through to the post-revolution period and into the 21st century. Weissberg’s historical perspective is augmented by his astute observations on the use of the long take in recent Romanian cinema, asserting that it’s an aesthetic strategy used to unflinchingly present horrific truths when examining personal morality in a society that had dehumanized its citizens for so many years. Weissberg also briefly touches on the work of filmmaker Lucian Pintilie, whose films remain little known outside of Romania, citing him as a significant influence on Cristian Mungiu and his contemporaries.

A lengthy new interview with Mungiu touches upon everything from the director’s very personal inspiration for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to the various ways he honed and perfected his aesthetic strategies throughout the making of the film. Mungiu is dry and direct, but he’s also humorously self-effacing at times, particularly when expressing his disappointment in how the film’s opening shot turned out. The complete Cannes press conference allows Mungiu to further expound on the cinematic techniques employed in the 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and the reasons behind them, as well as address his controversial decisions, such as various red herrings and graphic, disturbing images that garnered much debate upon the film’s release. Actors Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, and Alexandru Potocean also field questions here, but Ivanov is the only one who clearly and confidently expresses his opinions on his character’s questionable behavior.

The 15-minute featurette “The Romanian Tour” tracks the film’s reception in small Romanian towns, but offers little in terms of insight aside from stressing the dire shortage of theaters outside of Bucharest. Also included, in a fold-out booklet, is a fine essay by NPR’s Ella Taylor, who examines the myriad ways that Mungiu slyly satirizes Ceaușescu’s Romania and shrewdly presents a case that the demeanors of the film’s protagonists, Otilia and Gabita, represent “two poles of personality shaped by totalitarian rule.” The disc is rounded out with a deleted scene and two alternate endings, each of which offers a more explicit peak into Găbița and Otilia’s personal lives, both before and after the day on which the film takes place.

Overall

The Criterion Collection’s release of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a tad light on extras, but its strong audio-visual transfer makes the long-awaited arrival of Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or winner to Blu-ray well worth the wait.

Advertisement


Cast: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alex Potocean, Luminița Gheorghiu, Adi Carauleanu, Liliana Mocanu, Tania Popa, Teo Corban, Cerasela Iosifescu Director: Cristian Mungiu Screenwriter: Cristian Mungiu Distributor: The Criterion Collection Running Time: 113 min Rating: NR Year: 2007 Buy: Video

Continue Reading

Video

Blu-ray Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak on Arrow Video

Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance receives a significant packaging upgrade from Arrow Video.

4.5

Published

on

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak may be the quintessential Guillermo del Toro film, as it compresses his fetishistic attention to detail into a single looming set where creaking floorboards, scores of dying moths, and the frequent intrusions of mutilated ghosts are just pieces in the giant dollhouse where the director merrily plays. The combination of gothic ghost story and harlequin romance doesn’t break new ground for either genre, but the intensity of Brandt Gordon’s art direction and Kate Hawley’s costume design reinforce the innate connection that period romance and horror share in how these genres so purely express their most profound ideas through ornate style.

Amusingly, the action of the film’s first act, the gamesmanship of high society’s courtship rituals playing out in well-lit parlors, is no less tense than the story’s eventual retreat into the dark confines of Allerdale Hall. The most dominant sound effects in these early scenes are the gasps and mutterings of New York’s nouveau riche as English nobleman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) ignores the pampered bachelorettes trotted out before him. Instead, he homes in on the bookish Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring horror author and the only child of a self-made magnate (Jim Beaver) from whom he seeks financing for mining equipment. Del Toro films a scene of Thomas and Edith waltzing for a gathered crowd of elites, all while trying to keep the flame from the candle they grip in their hands from going out, as if it were a circus stunt, the couple’s willingness to dance in front of a wall of judgment akin to performing acrobatics without a net.

Such flourishes are almost subtle despite their intricate blocking and rich color palettes, but when Crimson Peak finally arrives at the Sharpe family home in remote Cumberland, del Toro indulges his most freewheeling whims. Allerdale Hall itself appears to have been hand-carved out of blatant symbols: the dulled seafoam-green wall paint that points to its overgrown ruin; the dank corridors lined by ominously spiked stone pillars and arches; and the gnarled architecture, with rooms that intersect so erratically with other chambers that they become entangled with one another. Rot has claimed the roof, letting dead leaves and, eventually, snow coat the long-faded grandeur of the foyer. Meanwhile, the blood-red clay that Thomas mines from the property seeps up through the floorboards, occasionally giving the house the impression of bleeding from ripped-open sutures.

So precisely defined is every aspect of Allerdale Hall’s physical decay that even the people who dwell within it feel more like conduits for the manse’s soul than independent agents. If Wasikowska’s surprisingly fortitudinous naïf is meant to recall Jane Eyre, Hiddleston’s version of Rochester comes not from Charlotte Brontë’s classic tome, but the revisionist version found in Wide Sargasso Sea, a feckless brute who maintains a veneer of respectability just long enough to nab a wife he can exploit to boost his own faded status. Hiddleston’s best performances always hint at a bit of sleaze beneath a show of welcoming charm, and the hunger that fills Thomas’s eyes whenever talk of money arises lays bare the sham of his romance from the start.

Advertisement


Jessica Chastain outdoes him, however, as Thomas’s even more mysterious older sister, Lucille, her face frozen in resentment and given to mirthless, thin-lipped smiles only in moments of extremely rare generosity. Perpetually clutching a set of ornate keys in her hands, Lucille is at once a judging matron, jealous sibling, and pitiless overseer. If Thomas embodies the house’s self-loathing and revulsion, Lucille is its unrepentant pride—neither the hole in the ceiling nor the sinking floor, but the decorated walls and lavish furnishings that stand defiant to the reality of their obsolescence.

Compared to the siblings, Edith lacks a memorable hook, and Wasikowska doesn’t get the chance to pore over her character the way that Hiddleston and Chastain do theirs. Nonetheless, most del Toro films feature a proxy for the director, and Edith’s ghost-seeing bookworm fits the bill here. As in the director’s other films, the supernatural is both real and imagined, clearly having a direct impact on a character’s surroundings while also pitched with sufficient ambiguity that some encounters suggest projections from the mind. Del Toro typically plays that line for maximum fairy-tale effect, but Edith’s tendency to continue to believe in the fundamental romance between herself and Thomas puts her in as much danger as her openness to the paranormal prepares her for the eventual confrontation with the truth of her new family.

Del Toro’s decision to explicitly underline the weaknesses of his proxy in Crimson Peak belatedly exposes prior stand-ins as equally shortsighted, and in the process the director clarifies a crucial thematic through line of his filmography. In retrospect, his fantasies are the opposite of escapes from harsh reality: It’s the real world, with its war and discrimination, that intrudes on the imagination, which can conjure up impressively detailed creatures and settings, but often struggles to map the complexities of emotion and history. Del Toro’s films tend toward the mythological, which is to say they’re timeless, rooted in a deep, era-nonspecific past. When social and historical context finally breach his microcosm, they expose the rifts of immaturity and sadness of a child who knows it’s time to grow up, but cannot face adulthood.

In that sense, del Toro may have less in common with the masters of horror than he does Wes Anderson, who similarly papers over his characters’ melancholy and displacement from the present with elaborate bricolage and immersion in esoterica. Crimson Peak, then, may be the director’s Life Aquatic, his fussiest, most compartmentalized construction, and therefore the one filled with the most powerful sense of repression and delusion.

Advertisement


Or perhaps, more accurately, it’s his Grand Budapest Hotel, what with its deranged aristocracy fighting a losing battle against time by targeting the new stewards of capitalism, leaching from them in a futile attempt to be restored to the old pomp and wealth. In Anderson’s film, a fading way of life tries to remain relevant by ignoring the atrocities begat of its willful obliviousness. In del Toro’s more explicitly generic terms, however, it’s the old guard that directly commits those atrocities to stem the tide of progress, a strategy so all-consuming that only at the point of self-destruction can one character realize what a waste it was to cling to so rotten a home in the first place.

Image/Sound

This Blu-ray edition’s hardback book indicates that the transfer was “made available by NBC Universal.” Indeed, there are no appreciable differences between this transfer and the one on Universal’s 2016 home-video edition of the film. Only a few instances of noise exist in the darkest shots, but otherwise this remains a crisp transfer. The 7.1 and X lossless audio tracks are likewise pristine, perfectly balancing the film’s exacting sound design—so rich in creaks and ghostly whispers—relative to Fernando Vélasquez’s tense but mournful score.

Extras

Arrow Video has ported over all of the features from Universal’s original release, which contained mostly brief EPK documentaries and one of Guillermo del Toro’s indispensable audio commentaries. Arrow supplements these extras with some new—and meatier—goodies, chief among them “The House Is Alive,” a 50-minute documentary that dives deep into the film’s intricate production design and literary inspirations. Del Toro also contributes a new interview, while two new critical pieces are included. One is an interview with critic Kim Newman, who places the film in the broader context of gothic romance, the other a video essay by Kat Ellinger on del Toro’s entire filmography and Crimson Peak’s place within it. Arrow’s lavish packaging also includes production stills and a booklet with an interview with del Toro and critical essays by David Jenkins, Simon Abrams, and Mar Diestro-Dópido.

Overall

A slew of excellent new features ensures that this is, for now at least, the definitive home-video edition of Guillermo del Toro’s elegant haunted-house film.

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope, Doug Jones, Jonathan Hyde, Bruce Gray, Emily Coutts Director: Guillermo del Toro Screenwriter: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins Distributor: Arrow Video Running Time: 118 min Rating: R Year: 2015 Release Date: January 15, 2019 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Donate

Slant is reaching more readers than ever, but as online advertising continues to evolve, independently operated publications like ours have struggled to adapt. We're committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees—so if you like what we do, please consider becoming a Slant patron:

Patreon

You can also make a donation via PayPal.

Newsletter

Giveaways

Advertisement

Trending