A Mexican-Spanish coproduction by the talented Guillermo del Toro (Cronos), this nightmarish fairy tale for grown-ups takes place in Spain after the civil war, when the Republicans were still counting on help from the Allies that would never come. A little girl in the rural north (Ivana Baquero) whose widowed mother has married a sadistic captain of the Guardia Civil (Sergi Lopez) conjures up a faun (Doug Jones), who identifies her as a princess and gives her three tasks to accomplish before she can be returned to her underground kingdom. Unlike most horror movies, this chiller gives equal prominence to reality and fantasy, though the reality is far more frightening. The only precedent that comes to mind in terms of a lyrical treatment of a child's experience of terror is The Night of the Hunter. In Spanish with subtitles.
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