- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2016

Guillermo del Toro’s haunting gothic romance arrives on Blu-ray in Crimson Peak (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rater R, $34.98, 119 minutes) to give viewers a way to meticulously admire the director’s obsession with visually stunning detail.

The story, set in the late 19th century, finds aspiring American author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) living in Buffalo with her wealthy daddy and haunted by foreboding visions.

She eventually falls in love with mysterious aristocrat and entrepreneur Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), after the accidentally death of her father, and gets whisked away to a desolate English estate.

There, the secrets of the Allerdale Hall mansion come to light through Mr. Sharpe’s schizophrenic sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) and some incredible-looking ghosts to give viewer a plot-twisting, methodical mix of crime thriller, creepy fairy tale and horror show.

The mansion, by the way, needs to get a co-star credit. The enormous, multi-story structure, a near-living, deteriorating being, rests upon a red clay mine and is slowly sinking.

That design choice allows practical and visual effects maestros to deliver moments such as the red clay seeping through the walls, and crimson ooze flowing from water pipes.

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The most intense effect reveals warm red clay surfacing on outer grounds during a snowstorm making the icy powder covered layer look like it is bleeding.

The digital transfer (1.85:1 aspect ratio) offers a gorgeous, full-screen exposure to all of Mr. del Toro’s immaculate vision, complementing the enormous production design, fine textures of period costuming and chilling effects often saturated in red and yellow hues.

In fact, during any moment in the mansion, pause the Blu-ray to find each key frame of the movie looking like an art masterpiece digitally painted by a collection of talented moviemakers.

Extras satisfying explore the creation of the “Crimson Peak” experience and are led by an important optional commentary track from Mr. del Toro.

Although slightly difficult to understand due to his accent, the man’s passion for the project shines during his entire narrative. He comments throughout on all minutia, explaining his influences, the painstaking architecture design choices; and admitting that every single visual decision was an objective, qualifying each image akin to writing pages of a novel.

More bonus content includes five deleted scenes and over one hour of featurettes.

The best includes a look at building the life-size mansion on a sound stage, with words from production designer Tom Sanders, a look at some of the creepiest red apparitions I have ever enjoyed on film, and a quick overview of the gothic romance genre of storytelling.

Mr. del Toro considers “Crimson Peak” his most beautiful film and one of the three best movies he has ever done. Any cinema student or fan of his work will embrace the Blu-ray and its striking presentation.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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