Guillermo del Toro makes monsters of us all. Ever since his vampiric 1993 debut Cronos, the Mexican director has spun tales of beasts and freaks whose inner lives chime eerily with our own – and his latest, the unlikely awards season frontrunner The Shape of Water, finds him at the peak of his directorial daring and verve. In this new video essay, I’ve unpicked the thread of compassion for outsiders which runs through his work, looking at its roots in his own response to early horror and fantasy films as well as del Toro’s own childhood.

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