The Devil’s Backbone (review recommended by reader D.K.)

Release Date: 4/20/2001 (Spain) – Rated R

Plot Summary: Ten-year-old Carlos is left at a Spanish orphanage by his tutor after his father dies in the civil war.  Imediately he is confrunted by the orphange’s resent bully, Jaime, which lead them both into trouble.   The old couple that runs the orphanage are sympathizers to the leftists and are housing gold for the cause.  Carlos begins to hear and see strange things at night in the halls and in the basement well room.  He then realizes that there is a ghose afoot on the grounds, known as “the one who sighs”.  Making things worse the caretaker of the school,  Jacinto, who is becoming increasingly violent and spastic whenever he comes in contact with the kids or the teachers; you see, Jacinto is after that gold.  The ghost keeps appearing to Carlos, telling him that “many will die” and scares the crap out of him constantly. As Nationalist forces seem to loom over the school, the prophecy seems more and more likely, as the children struggle with ghosts, betrayal, and death.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I really liked the story, and the actors (both child and adult) were fantastic.  Del Torro is a teriffic storyteller and this is a fine example of how he can instantly transport you to another place and time.  I also was very fond of the make-up and effects for the ghost and thought it was very orgional.  I enjoyed it, and if you like any del Torro films, you will too.

Tim’s Thoughts: If I hadn’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth already I would have absolutely been blown away, but that being said, I think this was a pretty good movie overall.  It feels very authentic, the child actors were excellent, and the story was solid. I have no complaints and if you love Guillermo del Torro then check this out.

Final Thoughts:  We don’t mean this negatively but it’s pretty standard fare for Guillermo del Torro. Don’t get us wrong ,this guy is an amazing director, and is changing the way we tell stories, but this is an early entry (2001), and he has progressed a lot from this film, so he has better movies out there. Still this one is pretty darn good.

Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber. ”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here