El Laberinto del Fauno (2006)
With an auteuristic approach and a daring and fresh mix of genres, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro combines formulaic fantasy storytelling with a historical account of the state of affairs after the Spanish civil war, and spices that up with a shockingly violent and explicit nature. The film, which is del Toro thematic follow-up to the more focused El espinazo del diablo, is a technical wonder, both when it comes to cinematography and make-up, but thematically it ranges from trite to messy, with only occasionally interesting discussions. The performances drive the film forward (especially those from callous López and young Baquero), but what del Toro really wants to achieve remains a muddle. Narratively El Laberinto del Fauno is too conventional, and the relentless pessimism that runs through the film makes it a strenuous and unpleasant experience. However, there is some originality, and the brutality will at least make an impression on your gut, if not stimulate your brain.