Weekly Poem #199

Raised Skin


There’s a notion of something, moving through the darkness,

A few subtle curves in the night, rising, and falling away again.

A slow rhythm of short, muffled sounds, a twitch, a breath,

And yet, to be knowing it, is to be feeling it, the sheer intensity,

So overwhelming that your mind is entangled in a lightning storm,

Tossed, flipped, teased and manipulated in a haze of nervousness.

Reality splitting apart and scattering like static-charged hairs cut loose

And sent sailing across a current moving in all directions, an EMP blast.

You’re not speaking, you’re barely moving, but you’re caught in a maelstrom,

Not conscious, not away, locked in a far off fantasy, a phantom encounter,

Entwined in a misty embrace with the spirit of an echoing brainwave.

Perhaps they’re someone you’ve loved in real life, or imagined what it would be like,

Perhaps they’re a stranger you caught eyes with on the street, just for a moment,

Or maybe they’re an amalgam of all your thoughts and impulses, watered and oiled,

Then made flesh for the briefest moment, false yet so intoxicatingly real

And purposeful, and important, and overwhelming, and suffocating.

But on the outside, just the faint shuffles in the darkness, just the faintest murmurs.

I have more free time now, should probably post something…

My dissertation is done and dusted, principal photography on my grad film is finished, so I have some measure of time to write entries again. Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d write a short story, just off the top of my head, as a change of pace, so here we go:

The Masons of Daggermound

The ruin of daggermound keep remains to this day a popular tale, albeit a mysterious one. Though the circumstances surrounding it are harrowingly clear, certain discrepancies remain. The masons who knew the day with their own comprehensions are long vanished, none would ever claim to have been one, save for a single shred of evidence. Some would come to dispute it as folly, while others found it to be a revelation, it seems a strange foible of humanity that so much passion and conjecture could surround the truths of an event that the past has long rendered irrelevant. The writings were found in the hollow of an oak on the outskirts of the silent wood, bound in a leather wallet. They claimed to be the accounts of a certain Hayden Skylark, a young stonemason who aided in the construction of daggermound keep, here follows his tale.

Daggermound was always spoken of as something of an unusual spot, but when it was selected by the court of King Samuel for the site of his new keep, the suitability of it for such a charge became infinitely clear. A wide bearing circle of untouched land, sat curiously in the middle of the silent wood, flanked on all sides by lofty ribbon gumtrees, long grass and twisting thickets of angry sharp-tooth buckthorn. As the name would suggest the mound stood a full foot raised above the surrounding wood, flat as a tabletop. To see it in the context of a castle plot, it was almost as if some great maker had planned it for that very purpose. As it ultimately turned out, this was not so, when the work started it was quickly discovered that the ground was uneven, filled with stones and sandy in many areas, the foundations had to run deep if the keep was going to stand. This meant delays, Hayden remembered them well. Week after week whispers of them being ‘behind schedule’ were always ripening on the tongues of the architects and foremen. The masons were worked from dawn to desolate night each and every day as they dug down deeper to place the struts, travelling lumberers returning periodically with fresh timber, the gumtrees and fruit bearers of the silent wood were useless for beaming, so oak had to be brought from the outer rim. The chief overseer and key architect, Garret, was always careful to conceal his concern from the workforce, he was kind to them as often as the project allowed. Hayden had previously only seen him snap at anyone once, when asked if they should ask the king for a bigger workforce.

“I defy you to mention the king again in my presence.” He’d said. “I defy you, if you want to see another side to me.” With that, Garret had walked away and the king was never mentioned within the confines of the site again from then on. Until Garret was called before the court. It had been a slow, arthritic autumn evening, winter’s cold was descending and the building had slowed to a crawl. Hayden was sat propped against one of the carts, eating a date and watching work continue. The keep was almost three-quarters of the way to completion, the pentagonal outer walls had been finished months ago, within them the royal hall’s exterior was finished, the three towers were somewhere between bone and flesh, with bricks crawling up the wooden cross-sections beneath at a steady pace. The bulk of the work was going on inside and beneath. The high tower had been tilting inches more every day and more work had to be done to correct it, adding yet more tautness to the long expired deadline. Hayden looked up at the battlements and saw Garret observing the work that was being done, he was a resolute pillar of a man, tall and strong. In spite of this, he had a soft, kindly face with warm hazel eyes, which were worn with the decades of building, not so able to take the weight of his long, hard life as his broad shoulders were. The sound of the horses was warning enough.

The approaching sound of a cart was the only one the masons were accustomed to, so the impending arrival of a brace of royal envoys was easy to differentiate. As the trumpet sounded Garret turned and vanished down the steps to greet the band. The work of the masons suddenly became somewhat arbitrary as they attempted to listen to the words being spoken outside the incomplete gate. Hayden observed the bricklayer Baron deftly drowning a single brick in cement, his eyes pointed squarely at the door, Baron wasn’t one for subtlety. Victor was still focused to some degree on the beam he was planing, but his expression was more than enough to indicate that his focus was elsewhere, his eyes were narrow and his lips were pursed like a carp. Hayden was on a break and therefore had no commitment to work at this juncture, arbitrary or otherwise, so he listened, contributing none of his energy to making it look like he wasn’t. It was useless, he heard nothing but mumbles from an unfamiliar voice, but he could easily recognise the received pronunciation of a royal envoy, anyone who’d been raised that close to the king’s court talked like that, Garett included. His voice was still easy to distinguish, for the few brief moments in which he spoke, largely monosyllabic as they were. After a worryingly long time he reappeared, silently beckoning three workers to him, of which Hayden was the last.

“We’re to travel to the silver hall.” Garret stated. The silver hall was one of the royal households, serving as King Samuel’s home until the keep was completed. “There are three horses waiting for you outside, once there you are not to speak unless I prompt you, but when I do, you are to do exactly as I instruct.” Garret then went on to provide a directive to every man for when they stood before the king. Quentin, the lumberer was tasked with explaining the shortage of quality oak to fell, while the old engineer Marty was tasked with handing the king a diagram outlining the look of the keep upon completion, in the hope that this would help the king understand the complexity of the task as well as exciting him for when it was done. Hayden merely had to show his honour and speak on behalf of the stonemasons, how hard they were working and how determined they were to make the castle perfect for their lord. As they rode through the silent wood, he contemplated this, did he really want the castle to be perfect for his lord? No. He’d been born in a farming town many miles to the east, the last drought had killed his parents and since then fate had been sweeping him ever closer to the middle of the royal hold, he’d already been a mason for the banquet hall on Myra’s cliff and helped raise the trebuchets at the border of the City of Kestrels. He had no concern for the king nor knew anything of his ways, he just wanted to keep his thirst quenched and a warm bed close at night, though the building of the keep had kept the latter well and truly beyond his reach. He was a thinning boy with a gaunt facade and thin lips, his eyes wide and curious, the rest of the masons knew and liked him, being from small beginnings as they all were.

When they finally rode into the silver hall Hayden was awestruck at the grandness and beauty of it, the walls were adorned with intricate tapestries depicting the battles on the red plains and sieges of the largest keeps. The beams of the high ceiling were lined with silver banners and carvings of the royal symbol, a swan with outstretched wing. At the end of the hall was the figurehead of the great ship Alexandra, an angelic shield-maiden with a morning star outstretched in one hand and a skull cradled in the other, the story went that it was that of her lover and she carried it with the hope of presenting it to his killer when she found him. The figurehead had been removed from the ship when Samuel had it dismantled, it was kept there as a reminder to the previously rebellious denizens of the Silver Plateau of the decimation of their navy. As such, it hung directly above his redwood throne, grand and ornate, which travelled to whatever hold he occupied. Hayden regarded him for the first time with wonder as they rode further across the marble floor to his seat. He was older than Hayden had anticipated, though there were still shades of red in his long beard, it was mostly white, he was sat in a stately, shapely stance with his head lightly rested on the back of his throne, still wearing the crown, which was carved from ebony and adorned in gold filigree, with three prongs rising up from it, shaped like spikes. It looked heavy. He was draped in a long purple robe that concealed most of his frame, but the contours of it and the way it rested suggested that he was a surprisingly thin man, for all the banquets he was said to throw. Garret dismounted his horse and knelt before him, the only other people besides them who were present were some twenty courtesans, stood in solemn vigils down the length of the boardy hall. Hayden and the others quickly followed Garret’s example, but elected to remain knelt for a time after Garret rose.

“My king, I am at your command.” Garret said with an inflection that was refined even for him, yet there was a certain distaste to the words as they left his mouth, a sourness. The king said nothing for a long time, long enough to make Hayden worry, the king’s eyes were sharp and severe, Hayden was almost as intimidated by them as he was by the grey lynx that lay by his side, unrestrained, seemingly dozing.

“I expect too much of you it seems.” The king finally said. “I ask for a keep on daggermound, I ask for it to be complete before summer’s end, I give you the best masons, lumberers and architects and still I find myself confined to the temporary lodgings of conquered rebels, fawning old lords and lowly ceremonial city towers.” He spoke with the back of his throat, deep and elemental, his body barely moved to accompany his mouth, as if he were some haunted statue.

“We are close to completion, my king.” Garret continued. “I’m sure you will be very pleased with the final result.” He briefly glanced over at Marty, who began to fumble for the scroll he’d been given. “We’ve brought you an impression of what the keep will soon look like, once the towers and lower chambers are complete.” Marty unfurled the scroll and lightly clutched it in his quivering, wrinkled grip.

“M-m-may I approach, your majesty?” He murmured in a brittle, distant voice. The king smirked and jerked his head by an inch or two, which Marty took to mean yes. He slowly slid his way further across the brilliant marble, he left foot sweeping across the orange beak of the royal swan worked into the stone. When he finally brought his hunched gait as far as the first step, Hayden heard a slight tap and glimpsed the king’s cadaverous, arachnid hand scuttle a little way across the arm of the throne. The lynx reacted to this by slowly rising to a stand and walking towards Marty, hackles raised. Marty’s breath began to bate and he let out a terrified squeak as he began to back away. The huge cat slackened its jaw and let a low, guttural yawn slide out as it continued to force him back away from the king. Finally the king tapped his seat again and the lynx sat down, but it never stopped looking at the poor old man, who was shaking so hard that his wedding ring was moving up and down his finger.

“Evidently, you may not.” King Samuel snarled. Hayden saw Garett clench his fist, he risked a quick glance at the ground but his resolve didn’t waver, he brought his gaze back up and met the king’s poisonous eyes without a hint of submission.

“We cannot hope to complete the keep by winter unless you afford us more men,” He continued. “The oaks left on the edge of the silent wood are gnarled and elderly, we need more lumberers to travel further out and come back with better wood if we are to finish the towers in due time.” Garret had taken Quentin’s speech from him, but Hayden somehow doubted that Quentin would take issue with that. “The keep will be strong, beautiful and a fitting place for a throne to remain, but you must give us all you can to make it perfect for you, every builder in the country is willing to do you that honour, all you need to do is send for them and I promise you the keep will be finished before the first frost.”

Once again the king didn’t say anything for a very long time. Hayden used the opportunity to observe his surroundings more. Two large braziers burned on either side of the throne, sculpted to resemble Bastion, the patron god of slaves, a muscular figure with no eyes or mouth, but thick, powerful arms and a brace of chains about his torso. The flames flickered and crackled, providing the only sound save for the the slow breath of the small congregation occupying the room. Finally the king moved at least, he clenched his jaw somewhat and loosed a hand from his gown, his fingers were as boney as Hayden had suspected, each one had at least three rings on it, some gold, some silver, even one carved from amethyst. He brought his index finger to his thumb and snapped them before letting the slender claw disappear back under the sleeve.


The sound bounced across the hall causing Garret to wheel around, by then it was over but Hayden however had seen it happen. In less than an instant the lynx had risen and fastened its jaw around Marty’s throat, it now had him against the floor, silently holding his head a few inches from the marble. Marty choked and wretched, twitching and shivering as he tried to grasp onto a single breath but it was no use. The lynx had pierced his windpipe, it held him steady as the life melted out of his body, Marty was able to let out one last fearful whimper before he expired. Amongst the slow trickle of blood Hayden swore he glimpsed a diamond tear fall from his frozen eye. The lynx gently let his head come to rest, then padded its paws lazily against his chest a few times before slowly walking back up the steps and curling around the leg of the throne, it went to sleep immediately, deftly licking a sliver of blood from around its whiskers.

Hayden could see that Garret was searing, he could barely maintain his composure. The king was observing this with a strange curiosity, he didn’t seem to have taken much satisfaction in what just happened, if anything he looked a little confused. Garret wordlessly walked over to Marty’s body and tied it to the back of his horse. No more words were exchanged between him or the king or anyone else, they simply mounted and rode away, never speaking on the three hour ride back the daggermound. Upon arrival Garret sternly instructed everyone to keep working, he took Marty’s corpse below to the crypt. The last words Garret spoke to Hayden that day were instructions, he and Quentin were never to speak of what had transpired. The pace of work increased drastically for many weeks after that, it became a solemn rush, morbid and foreboding, Hayden often took the time to observe Garret’s manner, it reflected his own, shaken and fearful of another royal envoy. The two of them often dined together in private, along with Quentin as was Garret’s wish, they spoke of nothing grave, Garret seemed endlessly curious about their lives and interests and though it worried him, Hayden liked the attention. The work had become dangerous too, the proper securing of scaffolding in the towers was deemed too time consuming, three men fell and died from the highest and another broke a leg. It wasn’t until the day before the equinox that another envoy arrived, but this one did not represent the king.

This rider cut a distressed and urgent figure, he was one of the head lumberers who went out in search of better beaming wood, he rode right into the middle of the site and leaped from his horse before it had even come to a stop, his feet met the ground unevenly and Garret had to grab hold of him to stop him falling while the stable-boy George hurriedly secured the jittery mare. Hayden had been working down below but he’d rushed up seen it all through the portcullis when he heard the horse arrive, too timid of interruption to actually open it. The rider finally calmed himself enough to speak up, nobody was expecting what he eventually said.

“It’ll be here in 4 days, 5 if we’re lucky.” He spluttered. “An earthquake, word of it arrived from the iron mines far to the east, a vast wave of destruction.” The masons stood in shock, earthquakes were a rare and devastating blight. Hayden had lived through several, they came once every few years and took many a sturdy castle in their wakes, he knew their work would never survive it. He found himself overcome by rage, Marty and the other workers had died for nothing.

“Gather round!” Garret boomed. Hayden hastily opened the portcullis and scrambled over to the middle of the courtyard. “We have 4 days, I will not let an act of destruction so fated as this render our hard work for nothing. We will finish this keep two dawns from now. We will not sleep, we will work through the cold nights and misty mornings. We will prove to our king that we are the greatest builders in this land and we will not be frightened away when the ground starts to rumble!” The masons cheered, Hayden did not join them. He didn’t know what to make of this, it seemed pointless, the keep would doubtless by irreparably damaged by the impending quake, the task would likely best be abandoned. However, what Garret did next perplexed him even more, he took several masons aside to work on the throne room, which had long been complete, Hayden eventually approached him to ask about it, but no answer was given.

The two days passed, four more men died, two fell from the tower and two more were crushed by loose bricks, but the keep was completed. To look upon it Hayden had no doubt it was the grandest building he’d ever turned his hand to. The battlements were beautifully carved and engraved, the courtyard was wide and grand, the towers tall and sturdy. Inside, the dining hall was lined with stained glass windows barred in iron, the staircases cut from the finest marble, but all built for defence, with murder holes, catapults and a portcullis for every entrance and exit. It was truly a marvel. That night, word that quake would arrive at dusk the following day vibrated through the camp, supposedly the only talk of it out there in the kingdom was in hushed whispers, the king himself would hear none of it, preferring to remain blissfully unaware of the outside world. Garret gave a stirring speech of congratulation to the masons, but late in the night most of them left, unwilling to watch their work crumble. Hayden however remained, wishing to have one final word with Garret before seeking out new work and a new home. He found him at dawn the next morning emerging from the high tower with a few of the older masons, he spoke some quiet words to them and sent them on their way. Hayden cautiously approached him as he leant against the wall of the entrance, deep in thought. When Hayden moved to speak, he jumped.

“Hayden! You startled me!” He spat. Hayden shrugged but he didn’t speak. “I’d have expected you to leave with the others, there’s no call for you to remain, I’m just here to watch my work crumble, as sad it tastes to admit.” Once again Hayden didn’t speak, he just looked Garret dead in the eyes, unmoving. “You’re too perceptive for my liking” He sighed. “Very well, stay until sundown, but keep out of sight and be gone before the quake arrives.” Hayden held his gaze for a few more moments, over the past days he’d seen Garret’s kind eyes recede into tired, worn out jade-stones, not since old Marty’s death at the silver hall had he so much as risked a smile. Eventually he could do nothing but turn and walk away, leaving his fallen master to contemplate alone.

The two of them crossed paths several times that day, Hayden spent much of it walking the forest, observing the way the keep sat amongst the tall, slender trees. In truth it cut an ugly shadow, the thickness of it loomed over everything else, it hadn’t a hint of the organic about it, it was grey, oppressive and not long for this world. Hayden much preferred to watch the red deer that passed between the trees, the lemurs that swung from branch to branch and even the bullfrogs that gathered around the ponds, dining contentedly on the massing midges, who would soon by driven out by the impending cold. Garret sometimes ventured into the woods too, but the two never exchanged a word, until dusk arrived. Garret found Hayden just south of the keep and beckoned him to the high tower, once up there Hayden saw something startling, the royal carriage was approaching. It was a hideously gaudy thing, golden and coated in prosaic sculpture, all of it evident of the grandeur of the kingdom but none of the violence that achieved it. King Samuel had been a high lord who’d decided that the old monarchy wasn’t to his liking, through financial means he’d amassed an army and swept through plain, city and forest alike unseating anyone who held to the old ways. He’d beaten down every rebellion since and now his kingdom sat in ignorant disrepair, every drought and hurricane and earthquake choking more life out of it. This is what Hayden had learnt from listening to Garret and he could see every word of it reflecting in his eyes as he watched the royal carriage approach. He turned to Hayden and uttered one sentence.

“This is where we part Hayden, I promise you, you won’t want to see this.” Hayden didn’t argue, he climbed back down the stairwell and slipped out of the courtyard, but he didn’t leave. He hid behind one of the bushes as the royal carriage arrived, the king had brought no guard with him at all, just the one driver to bring him there and back and a second storage carriage, as the two came to a stop the drivers both dismounted and retrieve what turned out to be the throne from the second carriage, walking ahead of Garret two take it inside. This was curious enough, but what was even more perplexing was the manner of the king when he emerged.

“Garret!” He exclaimed and wrapped his arms around him in a warm embrace. “How long has it been my old friend?” The king stood back with a warm smile.

“Too long.” Said Garret, comfortingly. “Come, we have much to see.” Garret lead the king into the courtyard with an arm around his shoulder, a gesture to which the king was very trusting. This was not the same man who had killed Marty with a snap of his fingers, what’s more, he seemed to know Garret a lot better than Hayden had presumed. He followed them into the courtyard.

“Do you remember when we took the galley up to the Blond Island?” The old man coughed, Garret nodded. “We drank so much wine that night, that was the first time you said you’d build me a keep one day and now, here it is! I can scarcely believe it!” He voice wasn’t as low as it had been, it rasped more and had a certain softness to it. “This is wondrous…” He whispered. “You truly are the most talented architect in the kingdom.” Hayden watched them move into the banquet hall, the king asked Garret if he remembered a certain old song, after which they began to chant it together like the two old friends they had clearly been, the king constantly nudging and leaning on him affectionately. It was then that Hayden felt the slightest of tremors, an instantly recognisable harbinger of the impending destruction. His stomach turned. He realised that they had made for the high tower and the throne room, he followed up the stairwell and peered in.

The throne room was the most notable achievement of the keep, it was a vast, tall space with intricate carved stone pillars running up the height of it. The throne was already in place and behind it rose a gigantic mosaic of the royal swan, glinting in brilliant silvers and blues. Hayden hadn’t noticed it before but some of the tapestries from the silver hall had been moved there, when this had happened was a mystery, the recent work on this part of the keep had fallen purely to the artisans. The king was craning his neck, clearly awestruck by the grandness of the empty chamber. He exhaled loudly and clapped his hands a few times.

“Garret, how can I ever begin to repay you for this magnificence?” He questioned, walking the length of it. “I never imagined in all my years I’d be grace with such a grand home!”

“Try sitting in the throne.” Garret suggested, inching towards the entrance, forcing Hayden to slink farther back. The king did exactly that, first cautiously wiping at the seat with his long sleeve and then turning to sink. He looked around the chamber once more.

“I always hated this chair.” He started. “But to have it in a structure of such splendidness makes the discomfort of its cares that much more bearable.” Hayden didn’t know what to think, which king was the act and which was the truth? He wondered. Before he could complete the thought the earth interrupted him. A massive tremor shook its way out of the ground and the sound rose and shattered against the walls like so many skeletons crashing to the ground. Hayden barely kept himself standing but Garret reacted to it like clockwork, slamming the lever down to shut the portcullis. “What are you doing, old friend!?” The king asked, panic reflecting in his eyes.

“This keep is not built to withstand this, neither are we.” Garret growled. “For what you’ve done, this is how it ends, here and now, you will sink with your keep and I with my castle.” The look that swept over the king in that instant was not one of fury or penitence but of terrified confusion, Hayden could see it now, he genuinely did not know what Garret spoke of.

“What I’ve done? What do you mean friend? Have I not been kind?” He wailed as another tremor nearly shook him out of his seat. “The apothecary… He claims my mind is slipping Garret, I’m a different person from one day to the next. Can’t you forgive an old friend his mistakes? I love you as a brother, I always have.” His hands were rattling against the throne, there was no mountain lion to defend him now.

“Look around you, see the result of your actions, dear brother.” Said Garret. For a time after that he waited, then another tremor hit, Hayden felt the entire castle sway in its wake. As it moved through some of the foundations of the walls fell loose to reveal something that made him wretch with shock. The corpses of the seven men that had died during construction and even that of Marty were entombed in the walls of the keep, surrounding the king. He covered his mouth in horror. “This is what you have done. Samuel. These men died to build your great keep and you cared not one moment for a single one of them! Marty was an old, ailing man trying to provide for his own and you set your lion on him! How you can deny these crimes!?”

“I…” Samuel went very quiet for a few moments, “I cannot deny the monster that I have become. There is another side to me, but I only know him through stories and conjecture, most are too afraid to speak of it. Truth be told I remember little of what happens these days, but I have no doubt that I deserve this. I accept this fate, all I ask is that you remember me as I was, as your brother.” The king bowed his head, there was a dull rumble and the roof above the throne collapsed, he disappeared in a cloud of dust that seemed almost soundless.

“…No.” Garret said after watching his old friend die. As he turned, he saw Hayden. “You were supposed to leave!” He snapped, Hayden didn’t answer. Garret took some of Hayden’s example and didn’t say anymore, as sections of the tower loosened they revealed that the struts had been chipped away, this castle was designed to collapse. As more stone broke and smashed around him, he simply nodded and smiled. The last thing he saw before the dust took him was Hayden’s eyes, steely as they were, as he shook his head and turned to leave. Hayden rushed out of the castle as he felt the tower tilt away from him, he leap out of the low window into the courtyard and sprinted through, feeling the slabs move and contort underfoot like a concrete sea. As he finally got clear he spun round and saw the three towers enclose like fingers and sink into each other, the stone crumbling with all the ease of a house of cards. He couldn’t watch anymore, as the keep sank into darkness Hayden walked through the silent wood, nothing but the sudden jolts of aftershock to remind him of his starting point.

Hayden was found some days later rested against one of the old oaks at the edge of the wood. Surrounding it were the desolate stumps of its brothers, their remains now lying in a pile of rubble and death. A local farmer came upon him at first light, he’d thought him to be dead, but upon further examination he was merely sleeping. When he woke he immediately turned to leave, moving west, still in the direct opposite direction of the wood. The farmer called after him, asking where he was going, who he was, what had happened. Of those three, he only answered one. “I am a mason of daggermound.” He said, then the sunlight swept him into the sky.

Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

Open the scene on a shot of a little girl, she draws a doorway in chalk on her bedroom wall and it leads her into a magnificent dining hall. There is a long table laden with masses of food, a banquet. Sat, motionless at the end of the table is a man, or not. A pale eyeless creature, thin, with fearsome looking claws. On a small plate in front of it are too eyes, the girl waves at it but it does not move. The girl turns to look at pictures on the wall. When she turns back the creature has leaned forward. I’ll bet you want to know what happens next.
All I’ll tell you is it’s not pretty. Pan’s labyrinth is a fairty tale with a dark side. I can’t really tell what its target audience is but one thing is certain, it’s not for kids. Full stop. For starters it’s set in spain during the revolution of the 1930s, anyone who knows their history can tell you it was a very horrible period. It trancends a link between two worlds, the girl Ofelia, is trying to escape a world dominated by the totalliterian forces, regualeted, for her part, by her evil step father, and he is a really nasty piece of work. The other world is that of Pan, a peculiar faun who deems her as the princess of his world, and issues her three tasks to complete in order to claim her throne. To be honest there really isn’t that much I can tell you shy of that, without ruining the twisting, turning story line.
In light of that I’ll summarise, Pan’s Labyrinth is a brilliant film, but don’t delve into it thinking its a laid back fairy tale. It. Is. Not. Sixty per cent of it is in the real world, it’s brutal, scary and reminds you of the horror of the human race. Don’t even think you’re getting a ‘nightmare before christmas-esque’ darkened fairy tale, because it’s really, really intense.

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