The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del diablo)
The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del diablo) (2001)

The mournful fable of the Santa Lucia School during the last days of the Spanish Civil War. An imposing stone building set on a desolate plateau, the school shelters the orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and other abandoned… More

Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: November 21, 2001
DVD Release Date: June 25, 2002
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Critic Score: 92% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Creepily atmospheric and haunting, The Devil's Backbone is both a potent ghost story and an intelligent political allegory.

Jami Bernard
New York Daily News

Guillermo Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone is a really cool ghost story with an extraordinary human and political dimension.

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Nathan Rabin
AV Club

The Devil's Backbone augments its abundant creepiness with an equally powerful poignancy.

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Ford Maddox Brown

The Devil's Backbone truly is a masterful film, one rife with both symbolism and story. This is a poetic piece of cinema that manages to expose the horrors of war through the lens of fantasy.

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Bruce Diones
New Yorker

Del Toro's elegant pacing and gothic touches imbue the proceedings with a cool mystery.

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Jonathan Holland

Though it fails in its final reels to capitalize on its early promise, pic is still stylish, accomplished and tremendously enjoyable fare.

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Lucero Solórzano

A microcosm, that is like a small war, combining living and dead, resentments, betrayals and revenge in an exceptional way with an impeccable cast. [Full review in Spanish]

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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal

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.

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Martin Rubin
Chicago Reader

An entertaining and atmospheric revenge tale.

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Austin Trunick
Under the Radar

Although spooky, The Devil's Backbone becomes weighed down by perhaps one too many subplots.

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Flixster Audience Score: 89% Flixster User Reviews
Edward Boxler
The Devil's Backbone is more sad than frightening. It focuses on the children in an orphanage with nowhere to turn to as the Spanish Civil War soon empties… More
Chris Weber
Guillermo del Toro's third time in the director's chair sees him making a supernatural spook story set during the Spanish Civil War. Though there are… More
Alex roy
Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone is a stunning, atmospheric horror tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Del… More
xGary Xx
Pan's Labyrinth was not Guillermo Del Toro's first stab at a story that mixes fantasy with a tale of the Spanish civil war. In the Devil's… More
Stuart Brooks
Fantastic ghost story, brooding and menacing, always tense and brilliantly acted.
Kevin M. Williams
During the Spanish Civil War a boy is unceremoniously deposited at an out of the way delapidated orphanage, and so begins this beautifully photographed drama… More