Young Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother in 1944 Spain to live with her new stepfather. He is a cruel fascist military officer in charge of a rural army garrison that is hunting down and exterminating resistance fighters.
His evil and brutality force the bookish Ofelia to escape into a world of fantasy, one that combines traditional fairy tale elements with the real fear and brutality that Ofelia senses-- and witnesses -- around her.
Everything about this film glows. Its combination of innocence, nightmare, magic, and beauty are balanced so artistically that you come away realizing how childish and inartistic so many other fantasy films are. Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Cabeza de Vaca) raises the visual and dramatic bar so high here that you cannot fail to be entranced.