Not really a horror film...
Mordrid | Charlotte, NC United States | 04/23/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In my years as a cinephile, I have amassed around 2000 horror films in my collection. So, I suppose I immodestly consider myself well-read (or viewed) in the genre. And while The Devil's Backbone has many elements of a horror film, it does not at all play out like a horror film. That in and of itself is not necessarily a negative but it begs the question of why this film has won such accolades as being on more prominent horror lists such as Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments" and Fangoria's "101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen".
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Guillermo Del Toro and the film is certainly up to par with his production, style, attention to detail, and paced storytelling. Yet, as I sat there and the credits started to roll at the end I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Is that all? The film just doesn't grab me like I had so fervently hoped. It relies almost exclusively on dramatic rather than horrific or fantastical elements and so it comes off as a 1920's darker version of "Stand By Me".
While the acting is all very good and the ghost looks very unique, the film presents nothing all that arresting or memorable in my opinion. It is not often I find a film that I can praise in so many technical ways but still feel that it fails to achieve its end. If this were marketed as a supernatural drama, I don't think I would have any room to criticize. However, the film is lauded as a masterpiece of horror - even here on Amazon, look at all the great reviews. (I'm sure this minuscule review will be buried deep in the latter pages.) A masterpiece of horror? I just don't see it. And please believe me, I sincerely tried - I sincerely wanted to.
I fear that for many horror aficionados, this film leaves a lot to be desired in terms of tension, scares, interest, or violence. It was on those levels that I think this movie failed to live up to its hype. Although not entirely not enjoyable, it is quickly forgettable and not one I will trot out when friends drop by to see something truly scary - because this film is anything but.
I don't necessarily regret purchasing it but I don't imagine I'll watch it again anytime soon. Buyer beware: only buy if supernatural DRAMA is of great interest to you."
Huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro
Becks | Washington | 09/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I 1st saw Pan's Labyrinth thru Netflix & loved it so I grabbed a few more of Guillermo Del Toro's earlier Spanish language films, The Orphanage & The Devil's Backbone. These films are all so well filmed, very rich & lush to look at, well written & the perfect amount of creep factor. The acting is excellent. None of them in particular have a happy ending, which doesn't always go over that well w/American audiences, although Pan's Labyrinth won multiple awards.
Devil's Backbone's main character is a boy, left in an orphanage, in what appears to be 40's wartime era in Spain. Pan's Labyrinth was also set in Spain around the same time, so I incorrectly assumed Guillermo was Spanish. He was actually born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. You'd think he was born & grew up in Spain having seen his movies. Devil's Backbone may start out slow for some but as most of his films, he sets the mood & the background. There is also the element of fantasy or supernatural, as in his other films. I was glued to the end of my seat during the whole film. The ending was very disturbing indeed & was very well done. I'm still looking to get a hold of Cronos to watch that & have enjoyed his English language films as well."