Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro has three movies on Netflix and one where I’m cheating a bit (he is a producer on the Orphanage). His trademark is wildly inventive visuals. I’m not a big fan of his Hellboy films – the animated ones really do seem to suffer from the “Direct to DVD” mentality and the 2 theatrical films had incredible visuals but lacked in the plotting and writing departments but Pan’s Labyrinth is an absolute masterpiece and I’m very much looking forward to his adaptation of the Hobbit.

Mimic

1. Mimic (1997) – “In this cinematic kissing cousin to the giant-radioactive-ant flick Them, etymologist Mira Sorvino eradicates disease-carrying cockroaches only to create a new breed of lethal, man-sized insect in the sewer systems of New York City. Co-starring Charles S. Dutton, Jeremy Northam and a nest of creepy, computer-generated bugs, Mimic will send you running for the Raid”

Mimic is a really creepy and atmospheric monster movie – I highly recommend this movie as long as you don’t mind horror movies about giant bugs. This also stars Giancarlo Giannini, Josh Brolin, and F. Murray Abraham but the real stars are the subway, the bugs and Guillermo Del Toro’s visual style. Mimic spawned two sequels which aren’t available on instant Netflix but you aren’t missing much there.

Pan's Labyrinth

2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – “Living with her tyrannical stepfather (Sergi López) in a new home with her pregnant mother, 10-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) feels alone until she explores a decaying labyrinth guarded by the mysterious Pan (Doug Jones), an ancient satyr who claims to know her destiny. If she wishes to return to her real father, Ofelia must complete three terrifying tasks in director Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning fairy tale for grown-ups”

Ok once again Guillermo Del Toro’s visual style is simply spectacular and is not restricted to real world locations as in Mimic. This is a rich dark fairy-tale set during Spain’s civil war. The only problem you will have is paying attention to the subtitles while all the amazing visuals are going by. This won 3 well-deserved Oscars (Makeup, Art direction and Cinematography) yet lost Best Writing and Best Foreign Language.

Hellboy Blood & Iron

3. Hellboy animated – Blood & Iron (2007) – “When a vampire destroyed by professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm decades ago is resurrected, supernatural agents Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien must stop a demon uprising. As the team battles hordes of ghosts and hellhounds, a showdown brews between Hellboy and Hecate, queen of the witches. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Hurt and Cree Summer provide the voices in this animated adventure based on Mike Mignola’s comic-book series”

I’m not sure why but I did not really care for this. It didn’t gel very well and the animation seemed pretty much by the numbers.

The Orphanage

4. The Orphanage (2007) – “Fueled by fond memories from her childhood, Laura (Belén Rueda) persuades her husband (Fernando Cayo) to help her revamp a seaside orphanage into a facility for disabled children. But soon after the couple moves in, their son, Simón (Roger Príncep), begins exhibiting disturbing behavior. As Laura tries to understand Simón’s increasingly malevolent actions, she becomes drawn into the house’s terrifying secrets in this unnerving chiller”

This is one where I’m cheating a little. Guillermo del Toro is a producer on this – Juan Antonio Bayona is the director and this is probably the best film I’ve seen this year. The tone is definitely Spanish, the writing is in the vein of M. Night Shyamalan, and the visuals are excellent (if not as fanciful as del Toro’s). There are subtitles but this is a tight little thriller.