By now, viewers of Guillermo Del Toro's work may know what to expect: a melancholy tale set in the midst of a horrifying moment in history, wherein the supernatural elements serve merely as a benevolent backdrop and humanity is responsible for the real violence. Which might be a kind way of saying Del Toro has found a comfortable mode to operate in over the course of his career, but at least here is the source text.
The original Spanish Civil War ghost story that cemented the reputation of its director as one of the most insightful and talented filmmakers. The chilling generational and ideological conflict that unfolds in the midst of the poor children who did nothing to deserve the bleak lot they've been left with.
A solid horror movie from Guillermo Del Toro. Well, it's a horror movie but I didn't find it scary or frightening. But as drama this movie really works. It's about the tragedy during the Spanish civil war with a ghost story. Looks like a family movie but it wasn't. Due to its depressing tone. I think this is Del Toro's most personal movie before Pan's Labyrinth...
I don’t usually find myself pulled into films that seem this melodramatic (and not self-consciously so) and end up being rewarded in the end. The use of music, the camera movements, I can’t decide if it’s your typical Spielberg-esque genericism or if it’s Del Toro going for something else. It didn’t feel very unique on a surface level, but the more I think about it the more depths I sense.
Despite some clunky dialogue (a del Toro trademark?), THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is easily the director's best and most tender film in any language. A ghost story, a coming-of-age drama, a period piece set during the Spanish war, yet —above everything else—a film about the idea of attachment to a place and time. An unexploded bomb stuck in the school courtyard is not just singularly memorable, but essential to the story.
Is it an insult to say that a horror movie isn't scary but poignant? Depends on who you ask, I suppose. I find del Toro's fables beautiful, and this one—a dark fantasy and precursor to Pan's Labyrinth—shows a loving knowledge that ghost stories are about presence and absence, paranormal or no. And, like Cronos, it's got the optimism to hope that something of human life will outlast the physical.
Another beautiful story portraying the smaller conflicts on the sidelines of the Spanish civil war from Guillermo Del Toro. I love this almost as much as I do Pan's Labyrinth, and the heroes of the story are not necessarily who you'd expect.. Gory, sad, but fulfilling, a masterpiece.