El espinazo del diablo (2001)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writers: Guillermo del Toro

Antonio Trashorras

David Muñoz

Tagline: The living will always be more dangerous than the dead.

Plot: A ten-year-old boy named Carlos, the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere.

Cast: Marisa Paredes – Carmen

Eduardo Noriega – Jacinto

Federico Luppi – Dr. Casares

Fernando Tielve – Carlos

Íñigo Garcés – Jaime

Review (spoilers):

Lately I’ve been watching many Guillermo del Toro’s movies. I found him to be a very nice director because all of his movies I’ve seen were excellent. El espinazo del diablo (The Devil’s Backbone) is no exception. It is a beautiful ghost story which takes place during the Spanish civil war. Our main character is a boy named Carlos whose father died in war recently so he was left in an orphanage. The movie begins with a wonderful narrative intro which perfectly presents the overall atmosphere you’ll be enjoying. Very early you can see that El espinazo del diablo won’t be just an average horror movie but more of a twisted and dark “fairytale” of some sort (just like El laberinto del fauno).

Yes, El espinazo del diablo is much more than just a ghost story.  It has a political background, scenes about growing up in an orphanage and many other subplots, which intertwine one with another. Actually, the movie’s whole point is that mankind shouldn’t fear any ghosts or unnatural things but itself. During the movie, this all is being said in such a dark and mysterious way, which makes the atmosphere even more creepy. This is perfectly seen in the character of Jacinto, as the movie progresses on you see his transformation from a helpful (and “friendly”) man to a cold blooded murderer who would step at nothing until he gets what he wants. As soon as he shows his true face, he becomes the main negative character in the film. And we see that he is the real menace from the beginning, not the ghost.  Besides all that, there are more things that make El espinazo del diablo even creepier like a bomb that fell (but didn’t exploded) in the middle of the yard and you also see some scary deformed dead babies.

Throughout the whole movie, Guillermo Del Toro makes an astonishingly dark atmosphere and you just don’t know what to expect next from it. El espinazo del diablo is a vey depressive movie too, it relies heavily on psychic terror. While watching it you can see what are people ready to do in their mental agony. However, this movie is far from being perfect. Don’t get the wrong idea, I liked it very much but I still can’t shake the feeling there is nothing special, revolutionary or genre breaking in it. I think the ghost of the dead boy, Santi, should have had more cameo because he stole every single scene in which he was. Most notably because the effects on him were masterfully done, he looked really creepy and scary. On the other hand the movie has some really unnecessary scenes which I found pointless (like couple of boys bullying Carlos – some of those scenes were over the top). To summarize everything, El espinazo del diablo is definitely a beautiful ghost story worth watching but nothing more. And, yeah, it also shows that the director Guillermo del Toro has a very bright future in front of him.

My Rating: 8/10… A very decent and nice ghost story in which nothing is what it seems to be.

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One Response to “El espinazo del diablo (2001)”

  1. prejeben film!

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