Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Devil's Backbone

Guillermo del Toro | 2001 | 106 min | Mexico + Spain

An older del Toro film that I finally got around to watching this week. This one is set approximately in the same period as Pan's Labyrinth, this time showing young boys living in an orphanage school against the backdrop of the Spanish civil war in 1939. The film follows a ten year old boy named Carlos upon arriving at the school. The few staff remaining at the school struggle to care for the children and aid the faltering Republican cause fighting Franco. As Carlo tries to adjust to his new life, navigating bullies and classes, he also finds himself being visited nightly by a ghost the other children call 'the one who sighs.'

This is horror more of the 'bump in the night' variety rather than the crop of gross-out films that Hollywood has been trying to pimp. That is to say, Devil's Backbone actually has moments that chill you rather than simply coating the lens in red. Aside from the genuine creepiness of the movie, we are also treated to an ensemble of interesting characters and a story that is more than just time filler until the next appearance of the ghost. This film is considerably more modest in scale (and budget) than Pan's or del Toro's fantastic 1993 film Cronos, but it is a very good watch nonetheless.

No comments: