The Devil's Backbone (2001)
August 4, 2022 5:54 AM - Subscribe

Spain, 1939. In the last days of the Spanish Civil War, the young Carlos arrives at the Santa Lucía orphanage, where he will make friends and enemies as he follows the quiet footsteps of a mysterious presence eager for revenge.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Rated 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max and available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is my favorite spooky movie. There's a moment that's leading up to a jump scare, you know it's coming, you know what it will be, but under Del Toro's direction that makes it even more effective.

I still reflexively grab my armpit when I think about how the bad guy gets it.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:52 AM on August 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

I liked this movie, though then I went and watched Spirit of the Beehive and I felt like I'd just gone and stood in del Toro's childhood bedroom for awhile and seen the origins of his entire soul.
posted by fleacircus at 8:38 AM on August 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

I love love love this movie. I need to watch it again.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:49 PM on August 4, 2022

This is just so perfect. Maybe the greatest ghost movie of all time. It set an impossibly high bar for Guillermo del Toro in my mind. Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak both revisited themes from Devil’s Backbone with a bigger budgets, but they couldn’t reach the same perfection.

There are so many poignant images: Casarses holding the shotgun, dead in his chair, no longer able to defend the children. The bomb in the courtyard. The gold bars in the prosthetic leg. The ghostly blood drifting out of Santi’s head. The contrast between Conchita smiling and dancing and the implication of the empty ring. And of course the comeuppance at the end.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:15 PM on August 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Beehive is an immense influence on Del Toro, but I think he's moved well beyond it in terms of visual creativity and mise en scene. I'm not knocking Beehive at all, btw: it's made a huge impression on me too.

This one, El Laberinto del Fauno, and the recent Nightmare Alley remake are my favorites of his films. He has all of the visual chops of the old timey greats and I believe he's also an excellent director of actors: check out the incantatory speech uttered by several characters in Alley.

Marc Maron interviewed him recently (last six months or so) and it's an inspiring conversation.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:54 AM on August 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

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