7.5/10
47,397
207 user 157 critic

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

El espinazo del diablo (original title)
Trailer
2:09 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
After Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, arrives at an ominous boy's orphanage he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover.

Director:

Reviews
Popularity
4,446 ( 42)
6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Cronos (1993)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook
The Orphanage (2007)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Director: J.A. Bayona
Stars: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep
Mimic (1997)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Three years ago, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler genetically created an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a virulent disease. Now, the insects are out to destroy their only predator, mankind.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Drama | Fantasy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López
[Rec] (2007)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano
Jacob's Ladder I (1990)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne
Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello
Crimson Peak (2015)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
The Others (2001)
Fantasy | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan
Thesis (1996)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

While doing a thesis about violence, Ángela finds a snuff video where a girl is tortured until death. Soon she discovers that the girl was a former student in her faculty...

Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Stars: Ana Torrent, Fele Martínez, Eduardo Noriega
Action | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones
Julia's Eyes (2010)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister.

Director: Guillem Morales
Stars: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Pablo Derqui
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Carmen
...
Jacinto
...
Dr. Casares
...
Carlos
Íñigo Garcés ...
Jaime
...
Conchita
José Manuel Lorenzo ...
Marcelo
Francisco Maestre ...
El Puerco (as Paco Maestre)
Junio Valverde ...
Santi
Berta Ojea ...
Alma
Adrián Lamana ...
Gálvez
Daniel Esparza ...
Marcos
Javier Bódalo ...
Búho (as Javier González Madrigal)
Edit

Storyline

It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. 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. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress named Carmen and a kindly Professor Casares, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Despite their concern for him, and his gradual triumph over the usual schoolhouse bully, Carlos never feels completely comfortable in his new environment. First of all, there was that initial encounter with the orphanage's nasty caretaker, Jacinto, who reacts even more violently when anyone is caught looking around a particular storage room the one with the deep well. Second, and more inexplicable, is the presence of a ghost, one of the former occupants of the orphanage named Santi. Not long after Carlos' arrival, Santi ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What is a ghost? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 2001 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$34,963 (USA) (23 November 2001)

Gross:

$754,749 (USA) (3 May 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Described by Guillermo del Toro as being a sibling film to Pan's Labyrinth (2006) (this being the masculine "brother" film, and Pan's as the feminine "sister" film). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[voice over narration]
Casares: What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For my parents See more »

Connections

Referenced in Special Collector's Edition: Casino Royale (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Yo no sé que me han hecho tus ojos
Written by Francisco Canaro (as F. Canaro)
Performed by Carlos Gardel
Courtesy Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Dramatic, creepy and excellent overall
22 December 2004 | by (Rhode Island, USA) – See all my reviews

After seeing the impressive rating on IMDb and being intrigued by its appearance at my local video store, I finally rented this film. I'm glad that I did.

"Blade 2" and "Hellboy" were my only other del Toro film's to date. Obviously, the man has an eye for style and even, occasionally, atmosphere. I was particularly impressed with "Hellboy": not nearly as good as the source material, but the best comic adaptation to film in many years, including the Marvel disasters. "The Devil's Backbone" is well acted and surprisingly effective in style and atmosphere. Not quite a horror movie...but with its creepy moments nonetheless. The script is also quite good: the characters are realistic and well portrayed, and there are a lot of great plot elements (i.e. the defused bomb) that give the story layers on top of layers.

My only complaint is that del Toro makes the mistake that many directors in the horror genre make: showing the monster/creature in too great a definition, and, in this case, far too early in the movie. Many directors should take a page from Ridley Scott's book: "Alien" is so scary because what you don't see of the creature, not because the little we do see of it. Still, del Toro's supernatural character is well-designed and has several haunting appearances.

All in all this was a great film that works as a mystery and as a drama: the writing, direction and performances are that strong. del Toro seems to do his best work while working with his own material, let's hope he does so more in the future.


50 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
what , no english audio again ? auto78900
Sometimes I really hate distributors mike-wright-1
Better than pan's? tburrowes
overrated anyone?? shootme243
Blurred photograph baggerman0
WHy were the foetus's being stored hardbore
Discuss The Devil's Backbone (2001) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?