DVD review – ‘The Devil’s Backbone’


‘The Devil’s Backbone’
R, 108 minutes
By Christopher Lloyd
If you’ve checked out “Pacific Rim” in local theaters, you might already be familiar with director
Guillermo del Toro. He got his start in his native Mexico, then came to Hollywood to make some
commercially successful but not particularly good pictures (“Mimic,” “Hellboy”). In 2001, he
returned to his native language to make a minor masterpiece, “The Devil’s Backbone.”
This moody, gorgeous horror/drama now is being issued as a Criterion Collection – the gold
standard for video releases. It comes with a host of extra goodies, in addition to a sumptuous
transfer of the film.
The story is set during the waning days of the Spanish Civil War. A young boy, Carlos
(Fernando Tielve) is sent to a remote orphanage where strange things are happening. An
unexploded bomb sits buried in the courtyard like a religious totem, and there are rumors of gold
hidden somewhere underground, perhaps being used to fund the Republicans.
Carlos is assigned the empty bed that used to belong to Santi, who disappeared mysteriously and
whose spirit is still lingering around. Meanwhile Jacinto, a former resident turned
groundskeeper, has various swindles and schemes going on.
It’s a beautiful and genuinely frightening film, and a true representation of del Toro’s prodigious
Movie: A-minu

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