The one thing you should see this week: a filmmaker who revels in his demons
This week’s pick: Guillermo del Toro at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
For psychologists like Bruno Bettelheim, fantasy and fairy tales are a necessary part of a child’s development, a way to symbolically vanquish death, abandonment and familial conflict. For filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who’s appearing this Thursday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the obsession with monsters runs a little deeper. The demons that populate his world are welcome alternatives to the horrors of the known world, both an escape and a means of understanding humanity’s moral complexity. A New Yorker profile from earlier this year described the director’s home as a kind of shrine to monstrosity, filled with models, sketches and life-size paintings of demons and creatures of the night. (Del Toro is currently in Toronto, doing pre-production work on Pacific Rim.)
Del Toro brings that fixation on the redemptive power of ghastly creatures to his movies. Consider his debut, Cronos, in which an old man’s transformation into a vampire only serves to strengthen the bond he has with his granddaughter. Or Hellboy, which sees a monster battling against the evil wrought by humanity. Of course, del Toro’s monster agenda manifests most memorably in Pan’s Labyrinth, which follows a young girl’s descent into the underworld, where she discovers that its most grotesque monsters pale in comparison to the sadistic cruelty of her human stepfather and the atrocities of war.
Del Toro’s appearance the Lightbox kicks off a week of top-notch horror flicks, including Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, the Italian cult film L’arcano incantore (introduced by del Toro) and the director’s own Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone. Del Toro is the perfect standard bearer for Halloween: a champion of monstrosity who recognizes the beauty, compassion and, most importantly, vulnerability in the mangled faces of his creations.
The details: Oct. 27. 7 p.m. $12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net
(Image: del Toro; Gage Skidmore)