The Horror Honeys: Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine

Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine

A Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne 

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

For the last couple of weeks, I suffered through a few mediocre Spanish films. This week, I decided to revisit a film I haven't seen in a few years, Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite storytellers and while, some of the films he has produced in recent years have been less than spectacular, his early Spanish films are some of my favorite of all time.

Fascist Spain, 1944, Ofelia travels to with her pregnant mother to live with her stepfather, Capitán Vidal, a ruthless, selfish man, concerned only with power. Unhappy and alone, Ofelia takes refuge in fairy tales. One evening, she meets a fairy who takes her to the center of a maze. There she encounters a faun. The faun tells her she is actually a princess from an underground kingdom. If she wishes to go back, she must complete three tasks. Then she can reunite with her true mother and father. If she does not prove herself, she must remain in the mortal world.

From the moment we meet Ofelia, she has suffered so much loss. Not only has she lost her father, who died in the war, but she has lost her home and, to some degree, her mother who is now concerned with her new husband and unborn child. When her mother dies during the birth of her brother, she has nothing left of her former life. She is alone and has no further ties to reality.

Of course, the other story going on is the brutality of civil war. A group of rebels is trying to take down the Captain and his soldiers. The Captain's housekeeper, Mercedes, is an informant for the rebels, led by her brother. Mercedes becomes a maternal figure for Ofelia, as well as a protector.

There is nothing particularly complex about any of the characters or even the story, which is why it works so well. The deliberate use of color is one of the most striking aspects of this film. The real world is done in pale, cold colors and the fantasy world is bright and warm.

Doug Jones, who works with del Toro a lot, is spectacular as The Faun and The Pale Man. How he does what he does with his body is nothing short of magic.

Del Toro's terrifying vision of extreme weight loss... Ew
This seems like such a personal film and I cannot help but relate to Ofelia on some level. While I did not have an evil Captain as a stepfather, I did have a rather strict father with a military & law enforcement background. With the amount of rules in our house and father quick to anger, I often found solace in books and my imagination. In the end, I'm not sure if I should be sad or relieved, but I know that whatever emotion I feel is overwhelming to the point of tears. The first time I saw it, I was inconsolable. Thankfully, I was ugly crying alone at home, humming that haunting lullaby, while rocking myself in a corner.

I complained in a previous post about poor translation. That can be blamed on blamed on dubbing or subtitles, but mostly it's bad storytelling. Not here. This film is so beautifully crafted and so well told through its imagery and acting, even if there were no dialogue or if you were watching with the subtitles off, you would know exactly what is going on.

Pan's Labyrinth isn't a horror film, but it shows the horror of humanity and what it can do to the innocence of a child. It's just a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

Supernatural Honey Verdict: 4.5 fairies out of 5