Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 37 Ratings

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  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Genre(s): Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy, Horror
  • Rating: R
  • Runtime: 106 min
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Del Toro builds excitement, dread, and melodrama in equal layers.
  2. With the ambitious and ominous The Devil's Backbone, Del Toro rises to a new level of accomplishment, adding history and politics to his distinctive blend.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    Jul 30, 2013
    A gutsy, first-rate, full-blooded ghost story, as elegant as it is eerie and brilliantly realised. Blending terror with tenderness, Guillermo Del Toro has crafted something both traditional and original: a sun-kissed gothic horror.
  4. Is nothing if not exquisitely detailed: It's like a blood orange that del Toro spends the film seductively unpeeling, revealing layer upon layer of meaning and pathos.
  5. 75
    The Devil's Backbone has been compared to "The Others," and has the same ambition and intelligence, but is more compelling and even convincing.
  6. Along with "The Others," -- represents a welcome diversion from loud, senseless Hollywood extravaganzas.
  7. Reviewed by: Christopher Varney
    That The Devil's Backbone makes any sense at all -- with its many, swirling plotlines -- seems like a little wonder.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Jun 21, 2014
    Del Toro's brilliantly combined a humanist ghost story with ornament of history of wartime and politic allegory, makes "The Devil's Backbone" not only creepy and haunting, but also elegant, beautiful, and dramatic, This film is deserved become one of the best modern horror film ever made. Expand
  2. Sep 13, 2014
    A magnificent ghost tale that is chilling and feels eerie when you're watching it, the movie is great.
  3. Sep 13, 2014
    A clever ghost thriller that has freaky effects and excellent acting by the main actor.
  4. Jan 30, 2012
    So good. Not that scary but doesn't matter because is one of the greatest stories ever told. It has the greatest characters in a scary movie (more of a fable). Interesting in so many ways. Expand
  5. BillS.
    Apr 13, 2006
    An atmospheric wonder of a film. Del Toro uses horror to enhance the film, rather than making it the film. The characters are engaging, and the symbolism is rich. One in a recent line of smart horror films (Sixth Sense, The Others) that hopefully signals a resurgence of an almost lost genre. Buy this, don't rent it. Expand
  6. Mar 18, 2012
    The Devil's Backbone is a thematically rich, extremely well-performed and spooky ghost story. The film keeps you engaged throughout, and its very easy to get involved with, and to care about the characters. Fernando Tielve's Carlos makes for a decent protagonist, Inigo Garces' Jaime, Eduardo Noriega's Jacinto and Marisa Paredes' Carmen are all complex, well-developed characters. Federico Luppi is also great as the story's narrator and philosophical anchor, Dr Casares. Like all good tales of horror, the real scares are not to be found in the on-screen chills (of which there are many) but in what the creepy imagery represents. Yes, the film is about a ghost haunting an orphanage, but really it's about loss of innocence, the futility and horrors of war and the lives it ruins. Though writer/director Guillermo del Toro is Mexican, the subject of his film, the Spanish Civil War, is clearly very personal to him. This can be seen especially when the film is viewed as only one half of a bigger idea (del Toro has stated that he sees the film as a sibling film to Pan's Labyrinth, and this is easy to see with both films using the Spanish Civil War to comment on the brutality of the real world, one through horror and the other through fantasy). The only real drawback to the film (speaking from an English-speaking perspective) is the clunky, out-of-sync English subtitles that appear to be attached to all non-Spanish releases of the film. I can understand del Toro's apparent frustration, and his decision to personally oversee the translation of his next Spanish-language project, Pan's Labyrinth - the subtitles are jarring, distracting, and bordering on annoying. Luckily, when a film is this rich and multi-faceted, even such a major drawback does not work to the utter detriment of the viewing experience as a whole. The Devil's Backbone remains a thoughtful, memorable human drama with a consistent creepy atmosphere and some incredibly dark thematic subtext. It's a great film on its own terms, but when viewed along with its "sister" piece Pan's Labyrinth its nothing short of superb. Expand
  7. Sep 3, 2010
    Ghost story set in a school/orphanage during the Spanish Civil War.
    As you'd expect with del Toro, it's beautifully shot & almost fairytale
    like. Eerie & brutal in parts & certainly much better than the over-rated Pan's Labyrinth.
    Some bits reminded me of the first Silent Hill game back on the PS1.

See all 14 User Reviews


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