31 Days of Halloween! #20. The Devils Backbone

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.




#20. The Devils Backbone (2001)

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Fernando Tielve, Íñigo Garcés, Eduardo Noriega

Plot: It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco’s right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A ten-year-old boy named Carlos, the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress named Carmen and a kindly Professor Casares, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Despite their concern for him, and his gradual triumph over the usual schoolhouse bully, Carlos never feels completely comfortable in his new environment. First of all, there was that initial encounter with the orphanage’s nasty caretaker, Jacinto, who reacts even more violently when anyone is caught looking around a particular storage room the one with the deep well. Second, and more inexplicable, is the presence of a ghost…

My Thoughts

One of the best ghost stories I’ve seen. And also one of the spookiest. Devils Backbone takes the bullshit horror sub-genre   of scary little kids that was kick started by the Japanese and their horror films like Ju-On and Ringu and the American remake The Ring (which is a great movie and may show up on this list soon, but the copycats that followed took the notion of dead little kid ghosts and drove it into the ground). Anywho, director Guillermo del Toro handles his movie with a love for the genre and fanboy respect and it comes across on the screen. You can tell del Toro put a lot of himself into this project and the characters he wrote, he also gives us some of the best child actor performances this side of The Sixth Sense. The ghost of Santi is one of cinemas most genuinely scary creations, not because he “pops” into the view thru the keyhole and scares the living shit out you – not because he whispers in your ear at night in the moments between waking and sleeping – not because he leaves his wet footprints in the dark halls – no, Santi gets to us because of what we come to find out about him and in the process makes him more then a ghost to us – it makes him human.


One response to “31 Days of Halloween! #20. The Devils Backbone

  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Halloween! Recap | the mandelbrot set

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