Holy fucking shit.
That’s a review of this movie in itself, mostly because it’s what I kept thinking during my two hour trip into the mind of Guillermo del Toro. I’ve only seen parts of the Hellboy movies and Pacific Rim, his more mainstream movies, and so seeing his indie dark fantasy was a bit of a shocker.
But seeing after Labyrinth, I can now add it to the very selective list of movies which don’t allow me to sleep at night. The only other one is the 1922 German ripoff of Dracula, Nosferatu. While neither is particularly scary, I find them immensely disturbing and although both (especially Labyrinth) have influenced me in some way or another, sometimes I really wish I never met that stupid faun in the first place.
His sass game is strong.
Labyrinth is essentially del Toro’s version of the original, “Fucked-Up” editions of classic fairy tales. You know them, guessing by the fact that you use the internet. Like how Little Red Riding Hood was eaten instead of saved by the huntsmen, the Wicked Step Mother in Snow White wanted to eat the latter’s liver, Rumpelstiltskin literally tore his body into two by his own hand, and that Ariel actually turned into sea form and couldn’t go to Heaven because your kid’s a motherfucker.
All of which are preferable to anything involving this.
Del Toro weaves a dark narrative in his story about a young girl, Ofelia, who is told she is a princess to a magical kingdom by that creepy blue faun thing I showed you earlier. I know it sounds suspicious, but the faun is still better than Ofelia’s dick of a stepfather, Captain Vidal. Other than Col. Hans Landa, I’d say he’s probably my favorite movie villain.
Although Tommy Wiseau’s a pretty close second.
The faun gives Ofelia three tasks to complete in order to return to her kingdom and regain her immortality: feed a frog inside of a tree stones to get a key, use that key to retrieve a knife hidden within the Pale Man’s realm, and then bring the faun the blood of an innocent. And the third task isn’t even the most fucked up thing in the movie.
In a parallel to Fairy Tales Gone Wrong, Francisco Franco’s Falange officers fight off rebels in the woods of northern Spain or something. So here we have two interweaving narratives: a bloody, inhumane quest for domination over a repressed people and fascists being assholes.
You think I’m joking, BUT LOOK AT THIS FUCKING THING. WHY, DEL TORO, WHY?!
That there is the Pale Man, who I mentioned just a few paragraphs ago. Now, why does all of this matter? Like, why did del Toro feel the need to mentally scar me for life? Well, the same reason any fairy tale does that. To teach the audience a lesson.
So, if that’s the case, what’s the lesson?
Personally, I don’t know. I suppose maybe it’s that even though the world seems dark and cruel, we have to remember to believe in the unseen and the unknown to preserve our innocence. Or maybe it’s just LISTEN TO THE FUCKING FAUN AND DON’T EAT THE FUCKING GRAPES OFELIA.
OR THIS THING WILL CHASE YOU ON ITS SPINDLY LITTLE LEGS.
I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah.
Maybe it’s a lesson in believing in the goodness of people, even when they make bad choices or do bad things. I don’t know. I’m not too much of a moral guy. I am, however, an entertainment and art guy. Is Labyrinth either? I think so, yeah. It is the stuff of nightmares? Well, of course. Is it good?
I’m pretty sure it is. Del Toro is a major influence to me because he tells stories like this. Dark, atmospheric fantasies with the creepiest monsters this side of Los Angeles, and all without shame. He’s a weird guy, sure. But he’s the good weird. A masterful storyteller with an eye for the unusual. I’d recommend this film to anybody looking to get spooked or to anyone looking for a morality tale about the human spirit.
Or, at least I think that’s what it’s about.
Oh, and before I forget, the cinematography was gorgeous! The fresh, crisp colors of the “human world” worked wonderfully with the dark, somber colors of the “underworld”. Just thought I’d share that.
"I’m really a freak in every place I go. I don’t quite fit in the independent scene, I don’t quite fit in the art scene, and I don’t fit in the Hollywood scene, so I’m a weird strange fat motherfucker. I’ll tell you this: I plan to stay that way, because there is something to be said."