Of course: the evil stepfather was a fascist! Guillermo del Toro mashes up fairy tales with the Spanish Civil War; the villain is With a Friend Like Harry’s Harry (Sergi Lopez) as evil stepfather in a captain’s uniform vs Maribel Verdú, the teenager-devouring doomed hottie from Y Tu Mama Tambien in a role straight out of For Whom the Bell Tolls, along with a secret garden, golden keys, magic chalk, mandrake root, and gnarly CGI creatures that Terry Gilliam only wished he’d had the budget for in The Brothers Grimm. The plot ends up not quite as fresh as I would have wished, but then again, there are only so many ways to make myths new (they’re supposed to tell the same story.) Some of the images–liquor seeping through the gauze on a stitched-up face, fairies chomping down on raw bacon, the Cronenbergish pale man with eyes in his hands, others I won’t spoil–are bound to haunt my dreams.
Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006. ****