The Devils Backbone Review
Written by: moviemaven
I first saw a clip from this film while watching Bravo's Hundred Scariest Moments on TV. I can't believe I missed this gem the first time around. Guillermo Del Toro sets this strikingly scary tale in an orphanage in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. The photography is beautiful and the story is touching as well as chilling. The film is Spanish with English subtitles but don't let that keep you away. You will be glued to your set even if you speak fluent Spanish out of fear that you will miss one second of this masterful film."What is a ghost? A tradegy condemned to repeat itself time and time again." This is the line that opens this exceptional film. The Devil's Backbone though set during a most important historical event is not a lesson in history but rather a haunting tale of deceipt, murder and longing.
Carlos is a young boy sent to live in the failing orphanage whilst the war is going on all around them. He forms an unlikely friendship with several of the boys who are initially his enemies. He encounters "the one who sighs" and finds himself caught up in a mystery. The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of one of the boys are sinister and disturbing.Del Toro deftly frightens us with images and sounds and sorrow. It is not often that we find a film that can move us as well as frighten us. One look into the eyes of "the one who sighs" changed the way I view ghost stories. The Devil's Backbone is easily one of the most superb films I have had the pleasure to view in a long while.
The missing child is not by far the only storyline here. Alongside the horror is tragic love story. The interactions of the characters would allow this film to be amazing even if it was not scary. But it is.