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Askew Review 15

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aka El Espinazo del Diablo. DVD. Horror. 110 minutes. Rated R, violence, some sexuality. In Spanish with optional English subtitles. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. During the last days of the Spanish Civil War, Twelve-year old Carlos is abruptly dropped off at the Santa Lucia School for safekeeping. The school, which is more of a compound, houses orphans of The Republican Militia soldiers killed during the war. Once Carlos settles in, he immediately makes some friends, as well as some enemies. As the days pass, Carlos learns there is far more going on here than the schooling of orphaned boys. After Carlos mistakenly interrupts Jacinto, the school’s handyman and former student, doing something he shouldn’t be doing, the two become instant adversaries and butt heads. Along with worrying about Jacinto, Carlos is visited by the eerie looking ghost of Santi, a boy who disappeared from the school a few weeks earlier. Wanting to pass along a message, Santi’s ghost whispers to Carlos, “Many of you will die..” Together, and under the most extreme of circumstances, the boys of the school are forced to come of age.
Director Guillermo del Toro really nailed it with this one. The atmosphere in The Devil’s Backbone is outright creepy, unnerving, and will surely have you seeing and hearing things while in bed at night. Not only will the ghost send jitters up and down your spine, the school itself is so ominous it should have been listed as a character in the movie’s credits. Fernando Tielve does a great job playing Carlos, and Eduardo Noriega plays the maggot Jacinto to perfection. Irene Visedo, who plays Jacinto’s love interest Conchita, is one hot chickie! Everyone in fact does a great job with the acting. The DVD includes; English commentary by the director and cinematographer, a making of feature (which is more of a promo, butt kissing reel), trailers, and storyboard comparisons. The Devil’s Backbone is probably one of the best lesser known movies that is widely available. “Backbone” is categorized as a horror, but del Toro doesn’t hide behind cut’em up slash and gore for shock value. Instead, he builds suspense by intertwining several b-plots together and slowly releasing the tension. Definitely check this one out! – Denis Sheehan




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