Pan's Labyrinth has been given the prestigious closing-night spot at the upcoming 44th New York Film Festival, an unusual honor for a horror film. The movie, which will also be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, is the sixth effort from writer-director Guillermo Del Toro, who is part of the new wave of Mexican filmmakers that includes Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
I liked some of del Toro's previous films (especially Cronos and The Devil's Backbone), but Pan's Labyrinth is in a different league altogether - del Toro's first bonafide masterpiece. Set in 1944, the movie blends gritty realism (the Spanish Civil War) with wondrous fantasy (fairies, fauns and some freaky, Goya-esque monsters) to astonishing, spellbinding effect. Although its main protagonist happens to be a little girl (played by Ivana Baquero), the R-rated Pan's Labyrinth is aimed squarely at adults - an all-too-rare example of a filmmaker treating the fantasy genre as seriously and thoughtfully as Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker treat it on the printed page.
Picturehouse Films plans to release Pan's Labyrinth in the U.S. on Dec. 29, although you'll be hearing a lot more about it before then. Here's the just-released teaser-trailer, courtesy of chud.com. Oh, and Sergi Lopez's performance as the Franquista military captain? Best villain of the year.