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The Devil's Backbone | El Espinazo del Diablo

Starring: Marisa Paredes Eduardo Noriega ,Federico Luppi ,Fernando Tielve, Íñigo Garcés and Irene Visedo
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Rated: R

Note: The Devil's Back Bone is a foreign film in Spanish with subtitles; but this does not lessen its ominous affects.
Win An Autographed Poster Of DB!

Bluntly speaking? You'll be chilled to the bone, like a good old-fashioned horror film with The Devil's Backbone! In my case, this weird all over spine tingling genuine fear ran through my body, practically, through the whole wonderfully different film! Scrumptious!

DBB is a sad, tradgic, story. Right from the very first frame you understand this is no fluffy Hollywood love story filled with a mini-waisted starlettes de Jour and straight teethed metrosexual studio manpod clones. Director Guillermo del Toro has selected his cast for realism and strength and the performances shine.

We meet Professor Casares (Frederico Luppi) as he recites one of his many memorized poems. In this opening poem we hear him speak of the meaning of "ghost." With his soft sullen tone, he sets the mood...

Prof. Casares runs a boys' school/orphanage for children caught up in the Spanish Civil War. The kids who inhabit the dreary fort-like school are alone, and their surroundings desolate. The visual metaphors are flying around you like Dolby surround sound.

A new boy, Carlos (Fernando Tielve), has been unceremoniously left in the Professor's care and arrives without fanfare. Carlos is immediately terrified at these new shockingly cruel and cold surroundings. It's not bad enough the school marm, principle Carmen (Marisa Paredes), has a welcoming personality of a Nurse Ratched, but apparently the dismal school is also haunted by "The one who sighs."

"The One Who Sighs" is a bonifide child ghost that bangs and bumps throughout the lonely nights. The children believe, the elders think it's a child's game. Shiver. He cozies up to little Carlos.

On top of the horror with the disgruntled ghost, Carlos is now zeroed in on by the resident tough kid, Jaime ( Íñigo Garcés). Jaime has decided to "break in "Carlos mega-school bully style. You feel so bad for this adorable child. I mean, because poor Carlos doesn't have enough stress being suddenly dumped at some weird school, unsure of his future and dealing with the Chatty-Cathy ghost now he needs the little ferret after him too!

The Devil's Backbone gets real creepy real fast and director Guillermo del Toro is not afraid to bare his love of the horror genre to the unsuspecting audience. The ghostly apparition, is unsettling and sadly appears to be a child recently missing from the school. He starts to warn Carlos of an impending doom. "Many will die…" the sad zombie-looking little fellow whispers. Of course nothing more, like where, when how, but that's part of the chill and terror.

Meanwhile there are several subplots forming in the film. There are a couple of love stories within all the adrenaline pumping ghost scenes that'll keep you on the edge- or under your seat!

There's studly Jacinto ( Eduardo Noriega ) who is himself an ex-school boy, now grown and assisting the Prof. Casares and the principle Carmen around the grounds. He's smitten with the simple cook Conchita (Irene Visedo). Yeah, but Jacinto is a shady shiddy character with a chip on his shoulder the size of Tom Cruise's ego. He's determined to become something no matter what he has to do to become that something. He'll let no one, not even some silly ghost, stand in the way of his delusional dreams of running off with Conchita and starting a farm.

The professor, meanwhile, has an unspoken love for the principle. After over twenty years it is still a love that has not been physically consummated. The two copulate by means of poetry orating. Organism not with flesh but words? Romantic, I guess. I'd need therapy.

All the school occupants' lives are intertwined as we head down the script, and the resident ghost is getting anxious…his meetings with young Carlos are becoming more daring and urgent. But why? What is he trying to warn Carlos about?

This Eduardo Noriega , playing evil Jacinto, is a yummy concoction of man Paella; slurpable, deep and filled with a mixture of exotic taste sensations! And he's evil, sure, but still super sexy! A young intense actor that even without uttering a word in English still had his American audience captivated.

The children playing Carlos and Jaime, Fernando Tielve and Íñigo Garcés, held their scenes like seasoned pros. Fernando's sorrow filled Carlos was a heart- retching young man who's eyes made your own well up with sadness for him more than once. Íñigo's Jaime was complex and deep, not easily figured out. Both brilliant young actors.

The Devil's Backbone is a very engaging film. The children are precious. You want to rescue them and save them from their sad existence. The child ghost is simply of the clench - your - fingers - into - the - theater - chair scary in a surreal classic ghost way. Every element from set, to cinematography, to performance is stitched together as beautifully orchestrated a period piece as The English Patient. Enjoy!

Snack Recommendation: Fetus elixors...see the film and you'll get it!

 


 

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