During the Spanish Civil War, newly orphaned Carlos is taken to a school for the children of those who died fighting against fascism. He is given the bed that formerly belonged to Santi, a boy who recently died during an attack in which a bomb dropped, landing in the school's courtyard undetonated, a reminder of impending danger. As the amputee headmistress (Marisa Paredes, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER) and the embittered caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), engage in a love affair, the headmistress' cuckolded husband, the impotent but benevolent school doctor (Frederico Luppi) sits by passively. Meanwhile, after Santi's ghost repeatedly reveals itself to Carlos, another student spooks Carlos with a dark secret about the boy's death. War surrounds the school, violence infests it from within, and Carlos sets out to avenge the death of Santi.
Taking on themes such as the brutality of war and the loss of innocence, Guillermo del Toro's (MIMIC) film skillfully combines elements of war, gothic horror, melodrama, and adventure to create a work that functions as both a genre film and a politically resonant piece of nostalgia. THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE uses history as a means of transforming what would otherwise be a routine ghost story into a powerful and affecting statement.
Guillermo Del Toro - Director, PAN'S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY, CRONOS
Guillermo del Toro - Director, PAN'S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY, CRONOS
David Munoz - Screenwriter, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)
Federico Luppi - Actor/"Time For Revenge"
Marisa Paredes - Actress
Fernando Tielve - Actor, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)
Antonio Trashorras - Screenwriter, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)
Eduardo Noriega - Spanish Actor
Guillermo Navarro - Director Of Photography/"Cisco Kid"
Berta Navarro - Producer, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)
Irene Visedo - Actor, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)
Theatrical Release: November 21, 2001 (NY)
"...Del Toro keeps things tense and, most importantly, keeps you guessing....Del Toro has crafted a creepy, lyrical movie that surges between unspeakable brutality and heart-bruising sentiment..." - 12/01/2001 Total Film, p.101
"...THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE remains the work of a great stylist with a uniquely disturbing attraction to, and vision of, the frontier between life and death..." - 12/01/2001 Sight and Sound, p.38-46
"...Throughout, Del Toro has composed vivid and riveting images that he has combined with an engrossing story, and the impressive performances of the entire cast keep DEVIL'S BACKBONE unabatingly compelling..." - 12/01/2001 Box Office, p.58
"...Richly atmospheric....Del Toro builds excitement, dread, and melodrama in equal layers..." - 12/07/2001 Entertainment Weekly, p.70
"...Mr. Del Toro takes an almost sensuous delight in weaving aural and visual textures of fear....Mr. Del Toro provokes your screams and shudders, but he also earns your tears..." - 11/21/2001 New York Times, p.E13
"...The movie is richly atmospheric in its telling of a ghost story..." - 01/20/2002 Chicago Sun-Times, p.6
"This is a horror flick that also functions as an allegory of the war that still haunts Spain eight decades later." - 01/17/2013 Wall Street Journal