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So the earlier film by Guillermo del Toro I see after I watched Laberinto del Fauno for the second time, which may be important to mention, because had I seen Devil’s Backbone first, I am pretty sure my assessment might have been considerably different. Devil’s Backbone (of 2001) also takes war into the lives of children, this time the children in some kind of orphanage. The mansion they inhabit houses not just the typical social relationships a newcomer initially has to endure when joining such a group, but also a proper ghost, the ghost of Santi, a previous inhabitant of the orphanage who is believed to be missing since a couple of years. The new kid (Carlos) decides that interest is better than fear and seeks to investigate the mystery around the ghost. He succeeds, and this leads him and his buddies into darker territory, where it’s not the ghosts they need to fear, but those who created them.
The film is a “ghost story” in a very traditional sense, in one line with the recent “Orphanage” (for which del Toro serves as producer, I believe), “Los Otros” or the whole tradition of gothic Haunted Hill House-style literature. This appears to be one of the darker traditions of the Spanish people in Europe and America (just read Marquez and Allende and Llosa…), and it is very nice to see it in such a pure fashion, not spoiled by the (perceived) need to add gore and gruel to the ghost because the narration is insufficient. Here it is done very well, and – just as in Laberinto del Fauno later – real world and fantasy world continue to convergence, and find each other in the end.

Roger Ebert Review
And plenty of praise from Guardian / Observer
And Scott Weinberg actually wording “masterful”

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  1. By Crimson Peak (G. del Toro 2015) | thomas4cinema on 11 Jan 2016 at 11:34 am

    […] movies in general, but I am not what you would call an unambiguous fanboy. While I loved Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, I stayed lukewarm on his Pacific Rim and Hellboy […]

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