Newest Review: ... whilst there are clear overlaps The Devil's Backbone stands apart as a film in its own right. Del Toro's strength lies in two key areas.... more
The Devil's Backbone (DVD)
Member Name: xisorosix
The Devil's Backbone (DVD)
Advantages: A brilliant, fast-paced film with superb actors!
Disadvantages: (Very minor:It would have been nice if certain themes were explored in more depth!)
I wanted to watch this film after seeing the famous Pan's Labyrinth film. I really enjoyed it and immediately looked for other films that Guillermo del Toro had directed. This film is set at around the same time period as Pan's Labyrinth. (Pan's Labyrinth is set at around 5 years after the Spanish Civil War whereas The Devil's Backbone is set during the civil war.)
I didn't really know what to expect from the film given that it is in the horror category and didn't seem to have the same magical innocence of Pan's Labyrinth.
A boy, Carlos, is taken to an orphanage by his tutor and his bodyguard. Little does he realise that his tutor is planning to leave him there since his father has died in the civil war. Carlos doesn't get told this at all and just ends up accepting it. Carlos isn't one of the smallest boys, but since he's a newcomer he gets picked on by Jaime, the biggest boy in the orphanage. All the other boys are scared of Jaime and even help him to bully Carlos. And even though Carlos has just entered the orphanage, it's immediately apparent that there is something strange going on. Carlos starts seeing a boy that everyone thinks has disappeared. Meanwhile, as the story unfolds, you see that Jacinto who is a worker at the orphanage harbours ulterior motives and will stop at nothing to get them.
This film isn't gory as such but there are many violent scenes. It definitely pulls at the heart strings and makes you scared for the next moment in the film, whatever that may be. Carlos impressed me with his strength of character and courage, and even though there were a lot of difficult moments that make you feel sad and angry, the ending was very satisfying with different ends tying together: the idea of a phantom, the boy that Carlos sees, etc..
Even though the film is done beautifully, I don't actually think that I would want to watch it again. Having said that the cast were amazing - the young boys especially couldn't have done a better job. If you're expecting it to be similar to Pan's Labyrinth then I think you might be a little disappointing, but if you watch this film without any expectations then I think it might actually surprise you as you become drawn into the plot and what happens.
(NB* 4.5 stars from me! :) )
Summary: Another great film by Guillermo del Toro!