Visually stunning and suspenseful, El Laberinto del Fauno is one of the best dark fantasy movies out there. I cannot remember the correct order in which I watched del Toro’s movies. However, I think the first one was his horror masterpiece El espinazo del diablo. Hellboy, Cronos and Mimic were all very different movies, bound by unique visuals along with the fairly interesting main story. Sometimes the balance was off, but every movie was really good. You would think that Pan’s Labyrinth is finally that big-budget blockbuster that we have all been waiting for, but you would be wrong. Partially wrong, because the budget was $20 million and the movie turned out fantastic.
With its eerie atmosphere, creepy visuals, and a very intense main story, it has an immense replay value. Perhaps simply because some of the scenes are so impactful that you will remember them for a long time. A definite proof that Guillermo’s time is coming. He’s one of those young and talented directors refusing to be part of the main Hollywood structure. I mean the balls to dare to create a fantasy story set during WWII with so many moving elements. And to make it easy to follow is true feat of skill and knowledge.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1944 and his plans are coming along nicely. Entire Europe has been ravaged by war and Spain is no exception. There, Franco’s soldiers are hunting rebels, trying to cement his place on the throne. In all this chaos, a young girl called Ofelia and her pregnant, single mother Carmen, have finally arrived at their destination. Carmen introduces Captain Vidal, one of Franco’s strongman to Ofelia as her new stepfather, and the two settle on his large estate. Soon they will discover that the mansion hides many secrets…
As you probably guessed, the cinematography here is simply beautiful. Those long shots of the woods and all the pastel colors form this fantasy setting that you just want to escape to. No matter what happens to be living there. It’s amazing what you can do with $20 million and a skilled director. El Laberinto del Fauno has a structure of a standard-issue fairy tale although it features some pretty strong visuals. Finally, we have to remember that all fairy tales do have that element of horror within them.
del Toro successfully blurs the line between the fairy tale and reality. Moreover, he excels at creating this vibrant atmosphere where you feel that something is real although it couldn’t possibly be. With so many original ideas and cool special effects you simply must check out this movie, enjoy.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones
Fun Stuff: Convinced this is a fairy tale, many parents brought children to the screenings. This forced Mexican theaters to put up signs warning about graphic violence.