Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Devil's Backbone

 (2001) ****1/2

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this film takes place in Spain, during the final months of the Spanish Civil War. Carlos, whose father died in the war, is left at an orphanage by his tutor/caretaker. Interestingly, there is a bomb that landed right smack in the middle of the courtyard of this little villa, which has since been defused. I mention the bomb because the night that the bomb landed a boy named Santi disappeared, this happened some time before Carlos’ arrival. The ghost of Santi has been seen by many and Carlos spots him in the kitchen on his first night there. Dr. Casares and his wife Carmen run the orphanage but there are some shady things going on. The good doctor is impotent so his wife seeks the comfort of Jacinto, a former orphan who now works at the orphanage. Jacinto is a real prick; he is only hooking up with Carmen so he can get hold of the key to the safe, he hopes to run off with all their gold. Jaime, another orphan, tells Carlos that he saw Santi murdered by Jacinto but has kept silent for fear of his own life. Santi has an axe to grind and he is set on revenge, it’s up to the boys to help him.
A fantastic story filled with very real characters in a bleak yet almost magical setting. We are given a glimpse of this sad and trying time through the eyes of a child. His first encounter with his fellow orphans is a test of weakness, some boys snatch his comic book and a small scuffle arises as he tries to get it back. Carlos gives them the, I don’t care attitude cause I’m not staying here long anyway. Immediately after that, he spots his tutor leaving the villa and in that instant he knows that this is now his permanent home. Though the situation is bleak there are many cherishing moments of boys just being boys thrown in giving the film such depth and grace. Tony and I had watched this film sometime between Horrorthons and I had immediately thrown it back into the queue knowing it needed to be reviewed. This also gets a biddy safe seal of approval.


JPX said...

This sounds terrific, what a gret find and review! That picture is awesome. I'm really impressed with Spanish horror.

Crystal Math said...

"Bleak yet magical" sounds good enough for me! I just love del Toro's work.

DCD said...

I am also interested! Although I'll never forget Desroc and I having our first night out in ages after mags was born and we decided to see Pan's Labyrinth because I had heard so much about it. Great movie, but not really the best choice for a "fun" night!

Octopunk said...

I saw this a while ago and I mostly remember liking it. Loved the image of that half-buried bomb.