7.5/10
54,602
221 user 151 critic

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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

Director:

6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Cronos (1993)
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
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 | 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
The Orphanage (2007)
Drama | Fantasy | Mystery
    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
Crimson Peak (2015)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 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
Hellboy (2004)
Action | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair
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
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)
... 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:

The living will always be more dangerous than the dead. See more »

Genres:

Drama | 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  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,963, 25 November 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$754,749, 5 May 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Guillermo del Toro wrote the film when he was in college. 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

Featured in The 100 Scariest Movie Moments: Part II: 75-51 (2004) 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 »

User Reviews

 
A great ghost story!
24 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

I'm a massive fan of the horror genre, but I don't like ghost stories. To me, ghost stories are a poor manifestation of the genre. It's not the idea of ghosts that's the problem, it's the way the stories are presented; often dull, slow moving and uninteresting, and those are things that do not make a good movie. However, there is an exception to every rule; and this film is the case with that one. The Devil's Backbone is a mesmerising and inventive addition to the ghost story tradition. The film moves slowly, but that is a definite advantage to it. The slow pace allows us to get to know, and even care for the characters before the horror starts, and this makes the horror all the more potent when it does start. The Devil's Backbone has been touted as 'the Spanish Sixth Sense', and although this is unfair as this is hardly a bad film; I can see where that notion is coming from. The main difference between the two, however, and the reason why this film works and Shyamalan's doesn't is that the parts between the horror here aren't boring, are well acted and serve a purpose in that they allow us to get to know the characters; Shyamalan got too caught up in trying to make his twist work and the drama in-between caught the brunt of that, rendering the film boring.

The film can't really be accurately described as a 'horror film', it's more of a drama come character study with horror elements. The horror elements are pronounced, as the ghost is the centrepiece of the story, but the film doesn't focus on them enough for it to be considered horror. Entwined within it's plot is a coming of age tale, a story of revenge and a nice little section on 'what is a ghost'. I like it when a film delves into it's subject material and attempts to give something of an explanation; Return of the Living Dead did it for zombies (albeit comically), and The Devil's Backbone does it here for ghosts. The coming of age side of the story is brought to life brilliantly by some sublime acting courtesy of the young cast. Entwined within the story are themes of the kids being thrust into a situation that requires them to grow up fast, and it also sees them dealing with themes of death and revenge.

One thing you will instantly notice about this film is the fantastic cinematography. The film has a gritty style, but despite this it manages to come off looking crisp and clean. There are some shots that are incredibly beautiful. All shots with the ghost, which is one of the best crafted ever, come to mind immediately but also of note are the underwater sequences, the special effects and the capture of the location. The film is set in an orphanage somewhere the Spanish desert, and this location serves the movie magnificently. The fact that it's a day's walk away from the nearest town makes the film very isolated, which allows the horror more potency. Guillermo Del Toro is an obviously talented director. He has this film under his belt, along with Cronos (which I haven't yet seen, but have heard great things), but after that it's hit and miss. Blade 2 was a good film, and a refreshing one after the lackluster first part; but Mimic wasn't very good on the whole, despite some good moments. More recently he's gone on to direct Hellboy, which again I haven't seen but it looks like another fun film. I hope Del Toro makes a return to art soon, he has the talent and it would be a shame to lose him to 'decent' films.


54 of 82 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 221 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page