The Devil’s Backbone

Rated 4.0 A 10-year-old boy (Fernando Tielve), orphaned by the Spanish Civil War, is taken in at a remote, all-but-abandoned orphanage, where there seems to be a terrible secret surrounding a sullen caretaker (Eduardo Noriega) and the sudden disappearance of one of the orphan boys. Director Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish-language ghost yarn (written by Del Toro, Antonia Trashorras and David Munoz) seems at first rather distant and uninvolving, and it does have more than a whiff of an extended Twilight Zone episode. But Del Toro’s atmosphere of sordid dread is hard to shake, and when you leave the theater you may find that the sad yet timorously hopeful story has gotten under your skin. Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography has an earthy beauty, and performances—especially by the children—are all excellent.