Not for the weak of stomach, Pan's Labyrinth is a mesmerizing, adventurous, grisly yet beautiful fantasy tale for adults. Set in 1944 Spain after the Spanish Civil War, the story follows young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who goes to live with her new stepfather, the ruthlessly cruel Captain Vidal. In the nearby woods, Ofelia stumbles upon an other worldly realm where she meets fantastical creatures, like the Fauno (Pan) who informs her that she is actually a princess, and in order to return to her rightful royal family, she must complete certain tasks. Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro is masterful in his weaving together of a fantastical story and a grimly violent reality. For more details — including my thoughts on the film's remarkable sound production — check out my review. The 2-disc DVD includes plenty of special features, including featurettes on the myths of the film and production sketches.
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The Dead Girl
Also not for the faint of heart, The Dead Girl features a great cast including Toni Collette, James Franco and Giovanni Ribisi, and was both written and directed by Karen Moncreiff. The crime drama centers on the murder of a young woman and spins outward to tell the stories of several other characters. Each person's segment is like a well-crafted short story, with the film culminating in a story about "the dead girl" herself. Chilling and dark, The Dead Girl is a successful follow-up to Moncreiff's last project, Blue Car.