Film scores

Soundtrack review: Crimson Peak (Fernando Velasquez – 2015)

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Crimson Peak is a 2015 gothic romance-horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver. After marrying the charming and seductive Sir Thomas Sharpe, young Edith (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself swept away to his remote gothic mansion in the English hills. Also living there is Lady Lucille, Thomas’ alluring sister and protector of her family’s dark secrets. Able to communicate with the dead, Edith tries to decipher the mystery behind the ghostly visions that haunt her new home. Fenrando Velasquez wrote the score and he’s impressed me last year with his “Hecules”.

From the first moment I saw the rich track list of this score my anticipation has been peaking for the two of the final cues, 10 and 8 minutes long respectively. Until I got to them thought there were 34 other moments to get through. And the first of them, “Edith’s theme”, simply stuns me with the beauty and intensity of the melody. The piano rolls with all the emotion this instrument is capable of and the violin joins in for a storm of heartbreak. When you have a gothic romance story on your hands, as a composer I imagine you can just dig into the most beautiful sounds of darkness and expose what you find there. The opening two cues have weight and meaning and they explore the dark beauty of the genre.

It takes a special kind of composer to say so much with such a short insert like “After the ghost”; barely half a minute long, this cue stops time. The back and forth between beautiful and deep romantic themes and dark chilling moments make this score spectacular from start to finish. We have waltzes, scary cues, gentle cues, there’s nothing missing from this composition. I love how some moments sweep me into a world of endless romance (“I desperately need your help” and “The butterfly” are two of them) while others make my skin crawl. Every note from this score makes me feel something, and the piano, that gothic, immense, intense piano backbone that drives this score is just out of this world

This wonderful, dark and seductive dance comes to a climax with those two monster cues. “I know who you are” gathers all the darkness and tension from this imaginary world and unleashes it around me. I’ve heard a lot of horror scores this year but this cue alone is enough to last me this Halloween. The way the music rolls and twists and turns, the way it grows and growls is just unmatched. “Lucille & showdown” completes this gothic cathedral of sound and leaves me ravished.

“Crimson Peak” is one of the richest and most beautiful scores of the year for me. The dark romantic genre in film music is not dead, or if it is, its ghost feels very real. There are few composers who can write such a score and we are lucky to be able to listen to such compositions.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 63 / 75

Album excellence: 84%

Highlights:

Edith’s Theme

My Mother’s Funeral

After The Ghost

Mcmichael

Valse Sur Une Berceuse Anglaise

I Desperately Need Your Help

The Butterfly

Optician

Allerdale Hall

The House

What Was That

Lullaby Variation

The Book

The Attic

Ghost II

Crimson Peak

Ghost III

I Have To Get Away From Here

Letter From Italy

I’m Here

The Machine / The Box

Key’s Chase

You Didn’t Drink Your Tea

You Are Awake

Let Me Help You

We Stay Together

I Know Who You Are

Lucille & Showdown

Finale

Credits

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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