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2,667 Ratings

The Devil's Backbone

El espinazo del diablo

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Spain, Mexico, 2001
Thriller, History, Horror


Spain in the last days of the Civil War. Carlos, 10, whose Republican father was killed in battle, is left by his guardian at the Santa Lucia orphanage. The bleak building conceal not only the adults’ dissolute relationships, but also the ghost of a boy who seems bent on making contact with Carlos.

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The Devil's Backbone Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Even as his extraordinary career takes him to the helm of blockbuster movies like Pacific Rim (2013), this sense of innocence remains an essential element of del Toro’s work—del Toro, the child whose life was “transformed by monsters,” who has devoted his career to exploring the inextricable relationship between pain and beauty, death and rebirth, damnation and salvation, and nowhere more poignantly than in the eerie enchantments of The Devil’s Backbone.
July 30, 2013
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Visually ravishing with its red, ochre and umber hues, it’s the most accomplished film by del Toro… With its complex characters and air of understatement, The Devil’s Backbone is far different in style from the director’s gleefully ballistic Blade 2. Like Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, it harks back not only to the more restrained style of ’60s horror pictures like The Haunting and The Innocents, but to 19th-century gothic-romance novels and the ghost stories of Henry James.
July 04, 2002
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Less excessive and more atmospheric than del Toro’s earlier films, The Devil’s Backbone is bathed in an amber light that burnishes the image to a fine surface gloss. Its agenda is ambitious. Del Toro’s screenplay is a discomfiting mix of gothic thriller, boy’s adventure story, and political allegory.
November 21, 2001
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