Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
Ariadna Gil as Carmen Vidal
Ivana Baquero as Ofelia
Sergi López as Capitán Vidal
Maribel Verdú as Mercedes
Doug Jones as Pan/Pale Man
I feel good to have gotten that off my chest. It took me quite a while to watch Pans Labyrinth…maybe due to the subtitles or perhaps because there were other movies in the theaters that I wanted to see more, I don’t know. I do know that this one showed up in a large number of “Best of 2006” lists presented by many of the horror movie sites lurking around the web.
Of course, after seeing Pans Labyrinth on so many lists of the greatest horror of 2006 (above my personal pick of The Descent) I just HAD to see this masterpiece for myself. Unfortunately by the time I came to the realization that Pans Labyrinth was considered a “must see” there was not a movie theater in all of Georgia that was showing it. Just my luck.
Finally Pans Labyrinth was released on DVD, and I was able to view this triumph of horror mastery. I will share my thoughts about this incredible movie first, and my disdain for the “horror intelligencia” that called it the best horror movie of 2006 later.
Ofelia (Ivana Baquero( is a young girl accompanying her mother (Carmen Vidal) across the country to stay with her new father, a fascist Captain leading troops in 1944 Spain. Since Ofelia’s natural father died, she and her mother have had a rough life… but “El Captain” will save them from all of that – and take possession of the child that Ofelia’s mother is carrying in the process.
The figments of Ofelia’s active imagination come to life when she finds a fairy on the side of the road that leads her to the lair of Pan, Pans Labyrinth. Ofelia, it turns out, is the reincarnation of a magical princess that must complete three important tasks to reclaim the forest for magical beings.
The score, visuals, characters and story are incredible in Pans Labyrinth. This is a fantastic tale of good vs. evil, magic and a child’s imagination. Truly magical from beginning to end, Ofelia’s quests take her to dangerous and amazing places to confront the evil beings that prevent the enchanted creatures of good from flourishing. In parallel the evil fascists militia must be defeated and the kind-hearted resistance fighters, determined to regain their freedom, challenge the tyranny in the name of all that is righteous.
Wrought with incredible situations, emotional intensity and social commentary, Pans Labyrinth will take you on a journey where anything is possible and good always prevails.
As wonderful as Pans Labyrinth is, it is most certainly NOT a horror movie. Why, then, would horror movie-themed websites name it as the best horror of 2006? I have a couple of theories.
Pans Labyrinth is presented in Spanish with English subtitles available for those that require translation. The fact that this is a foreign-language sub-titled film immediately appeals to the art-house crowd and therefore the horror intelligencia.Pans Labyrinth is intensely political, speaking to government atrocities and the plight of honorable citizens to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to emerge victorious, freedoms intact. This puts Pans Labyrinth in the realm of social commentary, also appealing to the horror intelligencia.
The overwhelming conclusion here is that anyone that would call Pans Labyrinth the “best horror movie of ‘anything'” is themself a member of the “horror intelligencia”, a group of movie critics that believe that they have such a refined sensibility that anyone that doesn’t agree with them is clearly trailer-trash. They define genres because, of course, they know best. We couldn’t understand.
Listen, I am just a guy that likes horror…and other types of movies too as evidenced by the fact that I think Pans Labyrinth is truly fabulous. Just don’t try to tell me that Pans Labyrinth is horror because I’m going to get mad.
To you, horror intelligencia; the fact that you had two semesters of film school doesn’t give you license to redefine a genre…get over it, and yourself.