Devil's backbone

Devil's backbone

El espinazo del diablo

DVD - 2013 | Spanish
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The most personal film by Guillermo del Toro is also among his most frightening and emotionally layered. Set during the final week of the Spanish Civil War, the tale of a ten-year-old boy who, after his freedom-fighting father is killed, is sent to a haunted rural orphanage full of terrible secrets. Del Toro effectively combines gothic ghost story, murder mystery, and historical melodrama in a stylish concoction that reminds us that the scariest monsters are often the human ones.

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MissPaperDoll Jun 26, 2018

Ticking Time Bomb


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richmole
Oct 24, 2018

Wikipedia calls this a "gothic horror film." Well, okay, that's the genre. But this terrific movie goes far, far beyond its obvious "ghost story" classification.

Here's why: master film-maker Guillermo del Toro--the producer, director and one of the film's three script-writers--used the story's supernatural underpinnings to accentuate very HUMAN behaviour, uses it to underscore the horrors of the very real world--war, betrayal and the dehumanization effect of loss and deprivation.

4.5 stars, for the richness of the visuals, the cinematography, editing and the narrative's careful pacing. Oh--and the very good performances del Toro elicits from a terrific cast (including half a dozen boys under the age of 15) and the exquisite performance of Spanish star, María Luisa Paredes, in the role of the boys' boarding school Principal.

I found the story's finale is too pat and predictable, however, so no 5-star rating. But very close! A terrific movie overall.

y
yumsushi
Dec 30, 2017

A touching and complex ghost story. Truly enjoyed it.

s
SF_READER
Jan 28, 2017

A very good gothic-horror / drama movie from Guillermo Del Torro.

m
Matisse
Oct 01, 2015

A very effective ghost story for people who don't like scary movies.

k
kcartagena
Aug 11, 2015

The best ghost story ever!

n
Nursebob
Jan 22, 2015

During the Spanish Civil War a group of abandoned orphans witness firsthand man's propensity to inflict suffering upon others. Nightmare visions of a ghostly child compete with macabre images of violence and death......an unexploded bomb in a playground, a dead fetus in a jar, burned bodies covered in rubble. The film seems balanced on the edge of a spiritual abyss and even the faint glint of humanity at the end does little to dispel the darkness. "The Devil's Backbone" is both haunted and haunting.....well worth seeing.

s
sweetsoo
Apr 13, 2014

Well worth putting up with the subtitles. A riveting movie.

k
karmafarmer
Sep 02, 2013

Top notch actors -children included- and a great ghost story. I probably would have rated it higher if I had not already seen it's companion film "Pan's Labyrinth" [so impressed by that one I bought my own copy]. I will have to track down the original release for the commentary; the one included here has Del Toro off on a tangent for the first hour, more of a passionate history lecture on gothic romance. The man is almost a genre of his own.

r
Ron@Ottawa
Apr 16, 2013

The Spanish Civil War was used as a backdrop to this story and the stage is an orphanage run by an older couple. It is a 'ghost story', and there are scenes that are reasonably scary. But you don't jump out of your seat. The story was told in a subdued, poetic fashion and the cast of children was well selected and they all acted well. Just a very well executed film by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Spanish with subtitles.

d
Dalison0817
Oct 16, 2010

If you're a fan of Pan's Labyrinth, this movie is one of the director's first project. If you're afraid of ghost, you wouldn't be after watching this. I'm not afraid of ghosts.

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SF_READER
Jan 28, 2017

SF_READER thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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