Box art for The Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone

foreign, horror, thrillers

A classic ghost story, haunting as it is moving, "The Devil's Backbone" is also a subtle allegory for the war that rages on just beyond the school's walls.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Calling The Devil's Backbone a ghost story is an unfair simplification of an exquisitely crafted film... If you must label this film as horror, then it's a horror film with a soul.

- Beth Accomando,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

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

- Bruce Diones, New Yorker, Monday, October 7, 2013

Fresh: So much better than Del Toro's studio efforts, with a masterful command of sound and and colour that is breathtaking.

- Colin Kennedy, Empire Magazine, Monday, September 24, 2007

Audience Reviews

3 stars

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 some chills and scares, it's more of a subtle horror, with the supernatural playing a part, but the human element being the main focus. In a lot of ways, this is just a dry run for Pan's Labyrinth, just not as polished or fully realized. Don't get me wrong: this is very well made, and it looks great and is enjoyable, but it really just felt like a stepping stone to me, and not really as special as many feel it is.

- cosmo313, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

3 stars

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 about the lives that intersect there and how they make their way. Wild cards in the piece are a few bars of hidden gold ... and a vengeful boy ghost. Not electrifying, but not bad at all.

- ApeneckFletcher, Saturday, February 4, 2012

4 stars

This isn't so much a horror film, as it is a drama with supernatural elements. This was a very fine film. Rarely do we get to see a true ghost story that focuses on the story more than cheap scares. In fact this is more than just a ghost story... this is more like a story that just so happens to feature a ghost. Very well done.

- itsjustme2004, Monday, October 10, 2011