Nothing will get you in the Halloween mood quicker than Guillermo del Toro’s rustic and mournful 2001 ghost story The Devil’s Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo), which gets a free screening 7:30pm Fri (Oct 21) at the Rose Marine Theater. It’s as good as del Toro’s marvelous Pan’s Labyrinth, and ultimately more weirdly elegant.
Set in 1939 at the close of the Spanish Civil War, the movie follows a boy sent to live in a haunted orphanage run by an imperious headmistress with a wooden leg and an abusive young groundskeeper with a tragic connection to the well in the basement. There’s also the water-logged ghost of a dead child trying to communicate a very important message during nightly visitations. Oh, and a huge bomb stuck nosedown in the orphanage courtyard that could blow up at any minute. The Devil’s Backbone is a tense supernatural thriller and a lament for childhood cut short.