The Devil’s Backbone (2001)


The Devil’s Backbone – Guillermo del Toro

El espinazo del diablo (original title)

Summary:  In the thick of the Spanish Civil War, the son of a fallen Republican hero, Carlos (Fernando Tielve), is left at a small orphanage in a remote location far from any town, village or civilisation.  He quickly meets the only three people who run the orphanage; an elderly couple, made up of a haughty headmistress (Marisa Paredes) and kindly professor (Federico Luppi), and a young caretaker who too grew up there as a young boy (Eduardo Noriega).  Carlos learns the home was also target to attacks from Franco’s troops, not surprisingly down to the elderly couple’s alignment to the Republicans, and their secret storage of gold.  As a result, a diffused bomb eerily stands in the school’s courtyard and what Carlos has yet to discover is why, and where, another pupil mysteriously disappeared to on the same day the bomb arrived.

My Review:  Almost a decade after Cronos (1993), del Toro takes some of his practiced gothic horror themes and mixes it in with a plot painted with politics and child-like innocence.  Again opting for the story to unravel at a slow pace, I’m not sure if what del Toro was really trying to say was lost in all the unwrapping, or is this because I don’t know as much as I should about the Spanish Civil War?  Although, if you take it as a straight-out flat horror flick, some of the scare scenes are guaranteed to make you jump.

My Rating: 2/5

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