AK’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I've had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce"
We're so lucky to have a director that makes such gorgeous and original fairy tales, bursting with creativity in fantastical character design and their majestic transformations. The love that Guillermo Del Toro has for them that he pours into his world is so evident & shines through in this project: whether it is the insect's transformation to a fairy, or the Hansel & Gretel's villain-esque creature—in that, it's luring children in, by way of food, only to eat them. I had seen the eyes imagery before but not the activation scene, and wow it was breathtakingly wonderful!
Guillermo's direction is amazing: he extracts great, naturalistic performances from the cast, and the film, in some parts, is so hard & depressing to watch because of the unrelenting violence, but oh-so worth it. Love that he's often like the real monster are oppressive authority figures - generally unquestioned by their peers because of the unchecked power they exercise. Mercedes' actions after being caught were moments most satisfying! The hiding and usage of the knife, and the refusal to his audacious request...so much yes, poetic cinema.
Also, how Ofelia's coming-of-age in a politically heated and personally worsening circumstances, burdened with the actual/perceived responsibility of saving lives, informs her philosophy, as a ruler, of being just & kind and for the people when she comes to power, if she comes to power. You know what would be a ridiculous theory: she never got lost, it was all orchestrated by her underworld parents, to instill in her their ideal values to continue their legacy. That not only was the blood thing a test, but it as a whole; maybe that's a reach? But either ways, it is definitely interesting how the fall of real world regime, coincides with the rise of (/thriving of) the kingdom.