Yesterday night I went to "Pan's Labyrinth"(/ El Laberinto del Fauno original Spanish title) it received great reviews and the trailer looked really promising as well. More people apparently heard of the buzz around this movie, because the cinema was completely sold out (which never ever happens here in Adelaide) And after seeing it I can totally agree with the critics: it was beautifully disturbing.
The story set in 1944 Spain, revolves around a little girl Ofelia, who travels with her recently remarried and pregnant mother to the countryside to join her new 'father' General Valdis who is a prominent member of Franco's regime. Valdis is evil incarnated, completely sadistic and only interested in his wife because she's bearing his child. Ofelia therefore escapes in her imagination where the real world is blurred with her fairytale world, which is every inch as gruesome and twisted as the real world, but where she is at least capable of effecting some change.
What struck me the most was how Pan's Labyrinth went back to the essence of what fairy tales used to be before Disney gave them a sugar and neon-coloured coating. Fairy tales were tales of despair, of death, of wonder and of evil forcing decisions on us (it makes me think of the malicious traps of death in Saw). The fairy tales spun by Ofelia are of this same nature. The faun of the title which is spawned by her imagination is a wicked and treacherous creature, but you feel that it is his nature. He wants to help Ofelia, but his nature works against him: he is primal, wild, immoral - the incarnation of the dark side of human nature.
The whole film is an exploration of this dark side. It is high in graphic violence and gore, yes, but it's a testament to the fact that it is inherent to us -violence is the language of our subconsciousness and all sorts of traumas and experiences can unleash it to the surface where it inflicts terror to the world.
Making in some cases death the only escape.