Guillermo del Toro’s wonderful and very dark fantasy is full of fairy tale imagery, set against the backdrop of a post-Civil War Spain. Our young protagonist is Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who encounters all manner of magical creatures as she escapes her bleak backdrop. A stick insect – which transforms into a fairy – takes her to a labyrinth. There she meets a faun who sets her three tasks to achieve immortality. One of these tasks is especially terrifying.
The Pale Man is a child-eating monster, who is blind until he puts his eyeballs into his palms and lifts them up to see. Yikes! He has a great feast in his lair and Ofelia is warned not to eat anything on his table; when she does, she wakes the Pale Man, he bites the heads off some fairies and there’s a frantic ‘chase’ for Ofelia to escape.
He really is very alarming.