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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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.

Dec 30, 2017

A touching and complex ghost story. Truly enjoyed it.

Jan 28, 2017

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

Oct 01, 2015

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

Aug 11, 2015

The best ghost story ever!

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 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.

Apr 13, 2014

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

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.

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.

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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Jan 28, 2017

SF_READER thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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