The Devil's Backbone
(El Espinazo del Diablo)
2001 - Guillermo Del Toro - 106 mins - Mexico/Spain
Fri 1 Nov 2002 at 8.30pm
Joyce's Lounge, Tuamgraney, Co. Clare
Midnight Court Rating: 4.3 (3 votes)
Genre: Drama, Art Foreign, Suspense, Horror
Producer: Agustin Almodovar, Berta Navarro, Rosa Bosch
Cast: Marisa Parades, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Inigo Garces
Writer: Guillermo Del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Munoz
Storyline: A chilling ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo Del Toro's THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE takes place in an orphanage in the desert where an unexploded bomb in the middle of the playground constantly reminds the children of the ongoing war. To make matters worse, the young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) befriends the ghost of a boy who died when the bomb originally fell.
The Devil's Backbone is a genuinely scary, exquisitely shot - and very well-acted - ghost story/political allegory set during the Spanish Civil War from Guillermo del Toro, Mexico's answer to David Cronenberg.
After his parents' deaths, 12-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is sent
to a remote orphanage run by Cesares (Federico Luppi of del Toro's earlier 'Chronos'),
an opera-loving doctor who swigs vintage brandy from containers preserving dead fetuses.
Small wonder the frightened Carlos is having 'Sixth Sense'-style visions of Jacinto
(Junio Valverde), whose moldering corpse lies bound in a stagnant swimming pool in
the orphanage's basement.
Jacinto mysteriously disappeared after an event we glimpse in the opening credits:
a bomb dropping from a plane into the orphanage's courtyard, where the boys treat
the unexploded device as a much-needed diversion in their grim lives.
Even as Jacinto is spookily warning Carlos that 'many will die,' Francisco Franco's
forces are closing in on the orphanage, where Carlos' one-legged companion, Carmen
(Marisa Paredes), is hoarding gold bars for the Republican cause.
Carmen is also cuckolding the impotent Cesares with Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), a
hunky former student of hers who's now the orphanage janitor and is dating a teacher
named Conchita (Irene Visedo). The situation literally explodes when Jacinto tries to get his hands on the gold before the orphanage is evacuated.
'The Devil's Backbone', which is not for the faint of heart, is vastly more frightening and stylish than this year's other period ghost story, 'The Others'.
Verdicts from the Midnight Court
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