DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
Guillermo Del Toro's obsession with the child's perspective is often the death blow of many films that have been produced with his name attached to it. He should stop producing them and he should start making them again because he has proven time and again that he is a fantastic storyteller and Pan's Labyrinth seems to be the film that blends together everything he values in film and stories.
This film is terrifying. Not so much because it is scary or filled with gore, no it is terrifying because we are scared for someone. Ofelia is a fantastic protagonist. She is a girl you automatically want to protect from the horrors around her and that investment is where this film garners its strength from. The horrors, both real and unreal, are terrifying because we instinctively want to protect this representation of innocence and unambiguous purity.
It is a simple trick but so difficult to get right. And here Del Toro simply nails it. He weaves a mirrored tale of surreal fantasy and harsh reality so effective because of its uncomplicated nature. Its labyrinthine nature, playing with common mythos and universal themes are fraught with the dangers of generic shallowness, but somehow Pan's Labyrinth manages to circumnavigate these dangers and delivers us an emotionally charged and visually lush film.
With The Devil's Backbone Del Toro showcased is belief in good storytelling and here he coats that particular talent with his knack for creating unique and memorable visuals And that is a cocktail I'll have any time of the day.