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7 Movies like Pan’s Labyrinth: All Is Not What It Seems

itcher recommends movies you should see based on your personal taste – check it out!

Dale Barham itcherMovies like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ stand as lessons to all viewers about the horrors of human life and the endurable qualities of a child’s imagination, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘mind over matter’. ~ Dale Barham

Life Is Like a Fairy Tale

“She left behind small traces of her time on Earth, visible only to those who know where to look…”

Guillermo Del Toro once said of Pan’s Labyrinth that he was:

“… trying to uncover a common thread between the “real world” and the “imaginary world” through one of the seminal concerns of fairy tales: choice.”

Now all of these films may not share total similarities with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ but they do revel in the power of the imagination, blurring the lines between the metaphoric and the actual, while centring a lyrical narrative on the innocence of childhood.

Without further ado, sit back, relax and check them out!


Movies Similar to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’…

‘The Devil’s Backbone’ (Guillermo Del Toro, 2001)

According to the director, this is his most personal piece and a fine return to form after the forgettable ‘Mimic.’ Often referred to as the baby brother of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ is a horror tale set during the Spanish Civil War (again) in a children’s home.

If you ever find yourself thinking that horror films are often light on plot and heavy on jump scares, this’ll be the perfect tonic. While it did spook us out, we found ourselves hooked by an intricate plot and well-formed characters as opposed to the fear of what is lurking in the halls of this secluded orphanage.

With human characters as foreboding as its resident spectre, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ is a rare horror movie with a fully-functioning brain.

Similarity Match: 95%
There’s no fauns, but there are many comparisons to be drawn between arguably Del Toro’s finest works – children caught in the web of war, deceitful authority figures and a brooding atmosphere to boot.

‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ (Benh Zeitlin, 2012)

If you’re after a movie similar to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ that’ll charm the pants off you, look no further than the indie sensation ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’.

The story is beautifully told, following a young girl who grows up in a flooded bayou with her fiery father and a ragtag community. While these people struggle to survive in their ramshackle home, a group of mysterious aurochs, awoken by the melting ice-caps, stampede in their direction.

Similarity Match: 85%
Again the hardships of life are sprinkled with a healthy serving of magic realism. A stunning piece of cinema well deserving of its acclaim.

‘The Orphanage’ (J.A. Bayona, 2007)

What is it about this list and orphanages?

With films as good as ‘The Orphanage’ we don’t mind taking a step back into one – but why do they have to be so terrifying?

J.A. Bayona’s directorial debut is one of astute handling and careful consideration when it comes to the final product, which of course is a masterful tale that is harrowing, terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

If you make it through this film and don’t have nightmares about the creepy boy with the sack at the end of your bed, we’ll give you a cookie.

Similarity Match: 80%
With Guillermo Del Toro’s name attached as producer, you knew these films would share some similarities. From great character design to the eerie plot and sets, this is a movie that won’t leave you disappointed.

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (Spike Jonze, 2009)

While ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ received fairly mixed reviews, you have to applaud Spike Jonze in adapting a nine sentence story into a feature-length film.

Straight from the off, you can tell this is a labour of love. All the weirdness you’d expect from the director is toned down in place of the alluring atmosphere that revolves around a child who ventures to an island home to a number of fantastic creatures.

Similarity Match: 70%
A life is better off with a little bit of magic – that’s the recurring theme here. Who needs boring everyday existence when you can visit your mythical friends?

‘Bridge to Terabithia’ (Gabor Csupo, 2007)

When we first saw ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ nobody prepared us for what a tear-jerker it would turn out to be – we’re not ashamed to admit we wept … a lot.

For a film about a child’s fantasy land and adventures in the woods and at school, it is surprisingly mature. With strong performances from child actors Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, you can’t help but feel for these kids – their happiness, their sadness and everything in between.

You’ll smile and you’ll cry, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Similarity Match: 70%
It’s movies like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ that inspire you to write stories, climb trees and take some time out for your inner child.


If You Like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, You Will Like…

There’s something about the Spanish language we can’t quite place. Something lyrical and hot-blooded that can make ordering a bacon sandwich sound like the most dramatic thing in the world. If we had it our way, we’d have every film written in the Spanish tongue.

Check out some of our favourites here!

‘Y Tu Mamá También’ (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001)

If ‘American Pie’ was a serious, considered piece – this would be it. It’s a coming-of-age tale the likes of which is rarely seen in cinema – exploring sex, relationships life and death with an unflinching approach. Much credit is given to the director, Alfonso Cuarón, for his dynamic style of filmmaking, imbuing the movie with a sense of purpose.

Embark on this Mexican road trip and you may find yourself with a new outlook on pretty much everything. Nevertheless, this is one movie you won’t forget in a hurry.

‘Talk to Her’ (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)

What a bizarre movie. Encapsulating, yes, but bizarre nonetheless. Pedro Almodóvar has always had a bit of a knack for framing reality with a subtle weirdness. Check out the mad scientist short movie scene in this instance, and you’ll understand exactly what we mean.

‘Talk to Her’ is the story of a male nurse hopelessly in love with one of his patients … who just so happens to be in a coma. As he befriends a hospital visitor, things go from normal to heart-wrenchingly tragic.

Without a doubt, an Oscar winner that’ll refuse to leave your mind when it’s finished.


A World of Pure Imagination

We think we’ve rounded up a few films like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ that would make for a mind-bending marathon. Whether you want to be taken to a faraway world, or even find a new land right in your own backyard, there’s enough of that here to satisfy even the most stubborn of moviegoers.

Have we missed out any movies you think should be here?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Hi, I’m Dale and I’m a Blu-Ray addict. When I’m not obsessively fixating over the ever-growing mountain of movies taking up most of the front room, I’m usually writing about all things Hollywood. Go figure, huh? If I’m not glued to the television watching ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ for the billionth time, you can probably find me crooning in my hard-rocking blues band or having inane conversations with the resident cats.
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