Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #4: The Devil's Backbone

FINALLY!  A very good movie!  The Devil's Backbone, written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (a favorite here at FMS), is a Spanish (English-subtitled) ghost story, set in 1939 Spain.  Young Carlos has been orphaned by the Spanish civil war and has been left at a remote Spanish orphanage, run by Republican sympathizers.  Carlos is a bright and gentle boy, soon running up against the orphanage's bullly, Jaime, the nasty caretaker, Jacinto, himself a former denizen of the facility, and Santi, the ghost of an orphan who died not too long before Carlos's arrival.  Carlos is given Santi's bed to sleep in and the ghost seems to attach himself to the newcomer, appearing to him often and warning that many will die.

When Franco's Nationalist forces begin to prevail, the Republican sympathizers decide to evacuate the orphanage, but an explosion decimates the place, killing many of the staff and the children.  The remaining orphans, Carlos and Jaime among them, must band together to survive the onslaught of scavengers looking to pilfer Republican monies hidden in the building, as well as to avenge Santi's untimely death.

I don't know what it is, but between the RECs and all of del Toro's work that I've seen, I have a real affection for Spanish horror.  The Devil's Backbone is lovely, beautifully shot, suspenseful with building tension and a couple of jumps, but not at all over the top with gore and violence.  As in Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro has a very nice touch weaving history and scary stuff together.  It won't be for the slasher/traditional horror fan, but for those who like a little bit of sophistication (and subtitles) with their ghosties, The Devil's Backbone is a very good choice.

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