Rated R for graphic violence and some language.
Written and Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Staring: Ivana Baquero (Ofelia), Sergei Lopez (Captain Vidal), Maribel Verdu (Mercedes), Doug Jones, Roger Casamajor, Álex Angulo, and Ariadna Gil
For a film that’s previews made it seem like a Wizard Of Oz type of movie, it had very little in common with the Wizard Of Oz, unless The Wizard Of Oz suddenly took acid and had an extremely dark and violent paranoid trip. The spooky feel Pan’s Labyrinth emotes makes it an incredibly somber film about a lonely girl caught in a world of war and violence. Her jaded perception of the world even poisons her own imagination with the grim fantasy land she escapes to.
This story that more appropriately fits into the horror genre than anything may have caught me off guard, but after understanding the perspective thirty or so minutes in, I was caught in the twisted mythology that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro created. Del Toro is also responsible for the film Hellboy and Mimic, two visually and thematically dark films. The difference Pan’s Labyrinth takes on is fathoms apart from each of those movies. There is the element of fantasy when Ofelia is alone desperately seeking something to connect to, a way to hide from the real life horror surrounding her. This is no movie for children. The fantasy world becomes just as frightening as her real world, and while some of the events and character’s may mirror helpful fairytale character’s, like the faun, they seem demonic and cruel.
There is no monster in the film more fearful than the Captain. Captain Vidal is methodically played by Sergei Lopez in a subtle and terrifying performance. The spectacle of his character may be a monstrosity, but a very real one. Lopez does not deter from his icy interpretation of the Captain once, as his behavior is just as static clean as his uniform. His sadistic manner is nonchalant, and his temper unforgiving. It was horrific to watch his character unveil itself. Every moment you hope he redeems himself, he only furthers his cruelty, to the final scenes.
I want to emphasize that this is not a movie for children, and not just because of the subtitles. It’s a nightmarish fantasy world for adults who can’t protect children from their wrong doings. The results of the evils of war and violence on the innocent seems to leave for little room for hope. By the films has finish there is a small glint of peace and hope if you can look past it’s shocking end. Visually and conceptually brilliant, it’s execution was even more. Pan’s Labyrinth is the kind of movie you don’t ever forget about and will linger with you indefinitely. It was profound and heartbreaking.