One more day down Mexico way (well, technically Spain for this one) and it’s time to visit a modern-day master. Guillermo del Toro is a driving force in Hollywood, whether he’s directing (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth), writing (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) or serving as an executive producer (Mama, The Orphanage). After some moderate success with Cronos and Splice, in 2001 he had his first big critical hit with The Devil’s Backbone. Overwhelming response, in addition to del Toro’s statement that it is one of his most personal and favorite films, has made The Devil’s Backbone one of the biggest horror hits of the new millennium.
The story is set in the last days of the Spanish Civil war. A small orphanage is running on a shoestring budget in the desert as a final stop for young boys orphaned by the war. Casares (Federico Luppi, Pan’s Labyrinth) remains out of loyalty to Carmen (Marisa Paredes) despite a bleak outlook. Only a groundskeeper and another teacher remain. Young Carlos (Fernando Tielve, Pan’s Labyrinth) arrives and settles in with the other boys but from the moment of his arrival, he has visions of a mysterious boy. It turns out the school is haunted but there are other secrets lurking behind every dark corner.
A visually stunning film in what are dark and bleak times. Del Toro weaves an eerie and haunting tale that is enhanced by his masterful story telling. Symbolism runs throughout the movie and may require multiple viewings to understand and capture it all. I was way late to this party and have no excuse. If by chance you haven’t seen The Devil’s Backbone yet, step away from the computer and do it now. Check out the trailer and buy the DVD or Blu-ray. This is another highly recommended flick for the Halloween season.
Tomorrow, we’re going old school for the rest of the month starting off with some Lon Chaney Jr. Universal Horror goodness!