Sunday 21 September 2008

The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo Del Diablo) [2001]

The ghosts and demons of the real world are far more horrific than their counterparts who are trapped in a metaphysical environment – this is a theme that the supremely talented Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro firmly believes in, and the portrayal of this belief attained marvelous levels in The Devil’s Backbone. This is a movie with extraordinary power and with an immense ability to touch the viewer’s heart despite the unflinching (and brilliantly photographed) onscreen violence. The Spanish Civil War is in full rage; meanwhile, in a school for orphan kids owned and run by a loving patriarch and his incapacitated wife who are in essence rebel sympathizers, some murky secrets are lurking round the shadows. Told through the eyes of a young kid Carlos who has recently been admitted to the school, the movie deftly reveals the whereabouts of Santi, a former student of the school who disappeared the day the “bomb” was dropped. Right from its exquisitely crafted opening monologue on “ghosts”, the fluid narrative manages to engage the viewers with facile ease. Boasting of a series of fine performances, including from all the kids, and comprising of subtle moments of a plethora of human emotions ranging from joy and sorrow to pride, lust and envy, the supernatural thriller is as potent a socio-political statement as captivating it is in purely cinematic terms.

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Genre: Horror/Supernatural Thriller/Gothic Horror/Haunted House Film
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain/Mexico

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