10 Years of FearToday is Guillermo del Toro’s birthday so in honour today’s 31 Days of Horror takes another look at his brilliant horror film El espinazo del diablo aka The Devil’s Backbone (2001).

Del Toro made The Devil’s Backbone after working on Mimic for Harvey Weinstein. Mimic was Del Toro’s first English language and American movie and he clashed a lot against Weinstein. Del Toro would later disown Mimic. The Devil’s Backbone gave del Toro a chance to make his own movie his way.

Set during the Spanish Civil War a young boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielveis) brought to an orphanage. The place is old and run by Dr. Casares (Federico Luppi) and Carmen (Marisa Paredes). A former orphan, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), works there as a handy man. In the middle of the yard is an unexploded bomb that has supposedly been deactivated…..but it still ticks.

Carlos has trouble fitting in. Jamie (Íñigo Garcés) is the orphanage bully and has started picking on Carlos the moment he arrived. Carlos gets up one night and finds himself face to face with the ghost of boy named Santi who went missing when the bomb landed in the yard.

Carmen and the good doctor are helping the rebels against Franco’s force and have gold hidden in the place. Jacinto has been looking for the gold and may know more about Santi than he’s letting on.

The Devil’s Backbone is an excellent and intense movie. Del Toro would later use similar settings and themes in his acclaimed film Pan’s Labyrinth. Here’s my original post.