With the exception of his latest film, Crimson Peak, I've seen every film that Guillermo Del Toro has directed, I've also seen a lot of films that he's helped produced or had minor involvement in, but I'm fairly certain that I know a lot about Del Toro and his particular style. I won't say I'm the most knowledgeable GDT fan in the world, because I'm not, but I'm someone who thinks that he's one of the more creative filmmakers on the face of the planet as far as it relates to poetic and surrealist visuals and excellent monster design. But, honestly, this is the least Del Toro film that I have ever seen. Like there's bits and pieces, like he obviously has a thing for insects if you've seen any of his films then you know know this by the imagery he uses. He has a thing for monsters/creatures, again, this is obvious if you've followed his career. Those things are obviously present here but, outside of that, there's not much here that feels like it came out of Del Toro himself. If you were to put his entire filmography on the table and you were to pick which one didn't belong, then it's obvious that everyone would pick this film. It just lacks something that has made his other films so unique and inventive. And, on top of that, it's just not a very good movie to begin with. Maybe the studio had a lot of creative control with the film, and why wouldn't they since they pretty much hired an unknown to the United States, at the time. So I'm sure they had some control over the content of the film, but it never feels like it's Del Toro's vision. He's fulfilling someone else's. Granted, the film IS based on a short story, but that doesn't mean that he couldn't have implemented his own little touches. So I don't think it's that, I just think it was the studio simply having too much control over the creative direction of the film that really held the film back. I don't know how Del Toro would describe his experiences while making this film, maybe he had a positive experience, because he's worked with major studios since then. So, who knows, maybe this was his vision. But, sincerely, whether the end result was his full vision or not, as much as love GDT, this just isn't a good film at all. This is during the late-90s, the post-Scream days, where horror had gotten a jolt of life, after pretty much being dead for most of the decade, but this movie doesn't really do much that feels like it should warrant a look. The acting is, actually, pretty awful. I'm assuming that the studio had an important part to play in who was cast and everything, because, while some of the people in this film are talented, they just don't seem like people GDT would work with. With the exception of Josh Brolin, perhaps. Regardless of whether or not GDT also had a hand in casting, the fact remains that it just isn't very good. The writing is also very lackluster. While I do think the acting is shitty, it's not like the dialogue does them any favors honestly. There's some decent monster make-up though a lot of it, sadly, is done with CGi and not with practical effects. This is the one where, I know, that Del Toro had no hand in, because if you've followed his career, then he's a big fan of practical make-up effects and he's used it incredibly effectively throughout his career. There's definitely some practical stuff here, but CG pretty much overtakes everything and it is to the detriment of the film. It's impossible to look at the film through 1997 eyes, I'm watching this in 2015, but the CG just looks terrible. It might have been decent at the time, but I just thought it looked absolutely awful. Some cool deaths and gore aside simply aren't enough. Though I do think that, with the right mindset, there's a goofy time to be had here. Like you can sit back and make fun of it. That's what I did and that, to me, made the movie infinitely more watchable than it had any right to be. If I was feeling particularly vicious, then I would've eviscerated this movie. I had originally given the film 2 stars, but I felt that was being too kind to the film so I downgraded it to 1.5. I feel that's a more 'accurate' score. Plus some people might accuse me of playing favorites with GDT and, while I'm a big fan of his, I'll call a dud a dud and this is, by far, the worst film in his filmography. I know someone somewhere using this film as proof for why GDT isn't actually a great director, even though his filmography, for the past 20 years, has been stellar. Unless you're a GDT historian or fanboy, there's no real reason anyone should ever watch this. It's not a good representation of how talented this guy can be. Still, this is quite a bad movie.