The Devil's Backbone

Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30

Where To Watch

Stream On
Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. Del Toro builds excitement, dread, and melodrama in equal layers.
  2. What gives the story resonance is the tenderness and sacrifice and even innocence del Toro reveals amid the savagery.
  3. 90
    Here is a ghost story so dynamic you could call it a ghost poem.
  4. 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.
  5. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Jul 30, 2013
    88
    With The Devil's Backbone, Del Toro pulls an Amenábar by dishing out sophisticated war commentary with bone-chilling dread.
  6. Reviewed by: Colin Kennedy
    Jul 30, 2013
    80
    Building slowly from a stately start, Del Toro manages to unite all his disparate elements - ghosts and gold, infidelity and politics - for a devastating final reel. The command of sound and colour is breathtaking.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    Jul 30, 2013
    80
    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.
  8. 80
    An entertaining and atmospheric revenge tale.
  9. The sensitive art-house viewer should be warned: Though slow-moving at first, the film ends in explosions and violent death, with a level of sadism that will undoubtedly prove too intense for some viewers.
  10. Brooding ghost story is rich with psychological and political implications that never obscure its fundamental creepiness.
  11. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    80
    It's a horror flick, and a creepily good one, that also functions as an allegory of the war that still haunts Spain seven decades later.
  12. 80
    Mr. del Toro provokes your screams and shudders, but he also earns your tears.
  13. 80
    The movie is an expert, sunlit chiller audaciously predicated on an unquiet historical memory: "What is a ghost?"
  14. Del Toro has made a ghost story that's not only evocative and original, it's a pleasure to watch.
  15. This film is much more atmospheric; it builds, not so much logically as viscerally, until you feel you can't escape. Lurid and overdone as it is, it's still a real disturber of the peace.
  16. 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.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew Sarris
    Jul 30, 2013
    75
    There is much violence in The Devil’s Backbone , but there is also catharsis and redemption. As ghost movies go, The Devil’s Backbone is much less self-indulgent than the wildly overrated The Others.
  18. Reviewed by: Robert K. Elder
    Jul 30, 2013
    75
    Fine ensemble performances and a tight balance of the supernatural against the historical make The Devil's Backbone a well-crafted, white-knuckled cinematic journey.
  19. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    75
    After a leisurely first half, The Devil's Backbone becomes utterly spellbinding, its tension mounting in steady increments, its story taking one dark turn after another, and its bittersweet resolution destined to haunt you long after you've left the theater.
  20. The film doesn't explore the nature of ghosts, as it promises to initially, but it's fun to watch Del Toro confront death and fear with such energy and humor.
  21. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    A seductively corrosive horror story that also potently suggests the ways war can shatter childhood.
  22. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    75
    Creepy and compelling and beautifully shot, The Devil's Backbone is a tale of the supernatural that feels completely natural. Its realness is what makes it so scary.
  23. It's imaginatively filmed and builds a sense of brooding emotional power.
  24. Along with "The Others," -- represents a welcome diversion from loud, senseless Hollywood extravaganzas.
  25. 75
    May be thin, but it's also sharp, like a stiletto.
  26. 75
    Genuinely scary, exquisitely shot -- and very well-acted.
  27. 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.
  28. del Toro blends agit-prop politics and ghoulishness without making the entire enterprise seem silly.
  29. 70
    Though it fails in its final reels to capitalize on its early promise, picture is still stylish, accomplished and tremendously enjoyable fare.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 103 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. BillS.
    Apr 13, 2006
    9
    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 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. Full Review »
  2. Jun 21, 2014
    10
    Del Toro's brilliantly combined a humanist ghost story with ornament of history of wartime and politic allegory, makes "The Devil's Backbone"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. Full Review »
  3. Jan 30, 2012
    9
    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 movieSo 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. Full Review »