The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

the devils backbone coverGuillermo del Toro is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite modern story tellers. His way of beginning a tale, and letting you get lost in the world he creates is simply amazing. Here is a line I really liked from the The Devil’s Backbone, where the doctor in the story talks about ghosts. “What is a ghost? An emotion, a terrible moment condemned to repeat itself over and over? An instant of pain perhaps? Something dead which appears at times alive. A sentiment suspended in time…like a blurry photograph…like an insect trapped in amber.” This short dialouge between the doctor and Carlos sets the mood for what happens later in the film.

The story goes as follows, set in a remote orphanage in Spain during the civil war in the 30’s, ten year old Carlos is left at the door of the Santa Lucia School during the days of the war. An unexploded aerial bomb dominates the school’s courtyard and, when it hit, one of the orphans, Santi, mysteriously disappeared. Stories abound over what happened to the missing child but Carlos will uncover the shocking truth in The Devil’s Backbone.santi

The Devil’s Backbone is an intelligent, inventive ghost story/murder mystery that intrigues the mind with its combination of supernatural drama and tale of revenge. The haunting of the school by little Santi is subtext for the day to day life of the boys in the Santa Lucia School. The look of the film is also a big plus, especially the eerie ghost F/X of Santi. I don’t want to even try to describe them, but the filmmakers utilize a watery grave imagery that haunts me still, not to mention the nice work of CGI. (which we talked about last podcast)thedevilsbackbone

The Devil’s Backbone is a unique, haunting tale that tweaks the mind and, at times, sends chills up the spine with its original ghost story, fine acting and great writing and direction. It is a must for the fans of the horror genre and Guillermo del Toro.

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