Guillermo del Toro knows horror. He knows what frightens us and he uses that to his film-making advantage.
I can’t even watch a trailer for his movie without running from my computer, screaming in terror.
Remember Pan’s Labyrinth? A child, a fantasy world, and fascist Spain? I couldn’t watch it. The Devil’s Backbone, again a child and a fantasy world set during the Spanish Civil War? Couldn’t watch it either.
Guillermo del Toro is from Mexico. He’s a director, screenwriter, producer and novelist. He directed and wrote the first Hellboy movie (with Ron Perlman as Hellboy), and was a producer for the second and third installments.
Fortunately I have a resident horror expert, my son. I keep him on staff for just such occasions. I discussed Guillermo del Toro’s new movie, Mama, with him. My expert had actually shown me a short film, Mama, made in Spanish with subtitles, sometime in the past year which had me so frightened I refused to touch my computer for three days.
Oh god, I think I’m gonna pass out just uploading that sucker! Jesus!
From my resident expert:
“There is actually a hypothesis which discusses why we react the way we do to the kind of horror movie Guillermo del Toro makes. It’s called The Uncanny Valley. It’s a theory of robotics and it hypothesizes that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like human beings, it causes human observers to experience revulsion. It was originally discussed by Ernst Jentsch, a German psychiatrist, who wrote an essay in 1906 entitled, On the Psychology of the Uncanny. Sigmund Freud elaborated on this in 1919, when he wrote his own essay on the same subject, The Uncanny. Robotics professor, Masahiro Mori, (think Japanese horror films), coined the phrase, The Uncanny Valley.
“Horror comes from the grotesque, from showing something familiar acting in an unfamiliar way. We are hard-wired to expect humans to act in human ways. When a human moves like an animal, or an insect, something that is inhuman, it plays with our sensibilities and becomes frightening. Guillermo del Toro is a master at showing us a human being acting in an inhuman way.
“He also tends to center his films around children. First of all, let’s be honest, children in horror movies are creepy. However, by placing a child at the center of the abnormal activity, he’s giving adults permission to participate along with the child, because in childhood the impossible is possible. In childhood, there is no impossible.”
And then my resident horror expert showed me this:
Holy fuckin’ shit. I have to run and scream now. Later.