I don’t think it’s hyperbole if one were to say Guillermo Del Toro is among the most renown directors of the fantastic working today.
Since his first feature film, 1993’s Chronos, the Mexican auteur has been well represented in the worlds of horror and the uncanny.
Then there was 2015’s Crimson Peak, which was a gothic romance, a type of writing or film making that abets numerous genres though at it’s heart is female distrust of the patriarchal order.
This is still film making that’s fantastical in nature, though those elements are lessened somewhat.
Crimson Peak was followed up by the Academy Award winning The Shape of Water (2017), which is also fantastical in nature though like Crimson Peak the weird, the uncanny was also secondary to the story of human characters.
Now this could just be an example of a director expanding his repertoire, stretching his creative muscles.
Or it could be a director moving away from the genres that made him renown to the general public.
After all Francis Ford Coppola directed The Terror and Dementia 13 (uncredited for the former, both in 1963) and only returned to the genre in 1992 with a movie based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
He’s dabbled in horror since that time though never really went back to the genre.
Or David Cronenberg, perhaps the greatest promoter of ‘Body horror‘ (I personally never considered zombie movies as Body horror, though if you do Cronenberg is still very influential, though perhaps less so).
His career took of with movies like Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979) and Scanners (1981) though most recently he’s done movies like A History of Violence (2005) Eastern Promises (2007), Cosmopolis (2012) and Maps to the Stars (2014) (though Cronenberg appears to delving back into strange waters with his upcoming Crimes of the Future).
Del Toro, unlike Coppola and Cronenberg, never strayed too far from the fantastical and uncanny, despite occasional dalliances with more mundane subject matter.
And I hope he never does because few directors have been as influential in the genre of the weird and ‘things that go bump in the night’ as Guillermo Del Toro.