Movie Review: The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Well, this is fun. I was already planning on doing this movie for the Month of Spooks, but then I found out that today was Guillermo del Toro’s birthday, so what better time to do it? So here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Devil’s Backbone”!

Set during the Spanish Civil War, the story follows a young boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) who gets moved into an orphanage for boys. And it doesn’t take long to discover some of the dark secrets that lurk within the place. So now we have our spook drama. And I found it quite engaging. I do like that it’s not just about a child sneaking around a creepy place, as it’s more about exploring the dark side of humanity rather than just jumping out at the audience like any ol’ horror flick. Yes, there is some spooky shit within the plot, and I do think it’s implemented really cleverly into the plot. It manages to blend effective drama with a simple enough ghost plot to create a really compelling and engaging package.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. Fernando Tielve plays Carlos, the main character in this. He’s a good-hearted kid who gets pulled into some less good stuff, and it makes for an interesting contrast with some of the bad things he gets involved with. And Tielve is great in the role. Next up we have Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto, who is kind of the groundskeeper of this orphanage. And he’s a huge dick, I don’t know what else to say other than it makes him an interesting antagonist in this. Noriega is great in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Íñigo Garcés, Federico Luppi, Marisa Paredes, Irene Visedo, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Javier Navarrete, and I thought it was great. It build a good amount of suspense, it adds a lot of emotion, and it just overall sounds fantastic, making scenes where it’s prominent am even better experience. It uses a lot of strings, and I think that works very well here.

As you probably guessed from the intro to this, the movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (with Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz helping out on the writing side). And of course it’s as well crafted as ever. The way that del Toro captures his scenes/actors manages to feel very real while still having an otherworldly essence to it. And when he wants to creep me out, he really succeeded with that. And the cinematography by Guillermo Navarro is pretty stunning, capturing both the disturbing and the beautiful in this world.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“The Devil’s Backbone” is an impressive horror-drama from one of the best director’s around. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Devil’s Backbone” is a 9,67/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Devil’s Backbone” is now completed.

Happy birthday, GDT.

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

  1. I just love this film. I saw it at the cinema, then bought the DVD as soon as it was released.
    A Spanish-language gem, packed with atmosphere, and a great cast too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I have only seen this once, it didn’t blow me away like Pan’s Labyrinth but I liked it enough to get it on DVD. Perhaps this is a good month for a re-watch!

    Great review, one thing I do specifically remember is the flawed characters 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Month of Spooks 2018 Roundup | TheMarckoguy

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