Going into Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) I expected something more or less along the lines of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, an unfortunate misconception on my part. Most seemed to be rather awed and quite moved by the film’s emphasis on the sadistic “reality” as opposed to the whimsical “fantasy,” but for me it felt like Ofelia’s supernatural journal was ever allowed enough time to really develop into any kind of truly vivid or meaningful experience. It would be like a film of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that kept cutting from her experiences in fantastic fantasy world to the banal realities of what was going on with her family and cat back home. That said, I can recognize its seductive qualities, but was turned off by what I found it to be one of the most uncomfortable theater experiences I’ve had since—well, a long time. I’ve read the arguments that the relentless depiction of the brutalities of Fascist Spain serves as a perfect counterbalance to Ofelia’s whimsical otherworldy adventures, but the escapes were far too infrequent for me as an audience member—the sadistic violence had me cringing for too long and too often to find much enjoyment in anything else. I suppose I was just disappointed that there never seemed enough time allotted for Ofelia, let alone audience members to explore this mystical realm, and certainly no room for it achieving any kind emotional relevance—it just becomes more or less a means of playing connect the dots between Ofelia’s two realities. By the end it seems to be little more than a depiction of a test (the pacing suggests an “another one down—next!” attitude) rather than a thoughtful exploration of what happens when the realms of fantasy and reality bleed into each other.