First and foremost, I need to point out that this is NOT a horror story for kids or teens. I know that both versions of The Ring ("Ringu") and The Grudge ("Ju-On") are popular with teens these days, but the level of violence (particuarly at the end) and sexuality in this Spanish movie make it a movie for parents to think at least twice before letting their teens view it.
Now, once you realize the adult nature of the movie, it is a great movie and well worth watching. Unlike the two movies listed above, this one is heavy on story and does not just consist of dead things hopping out at everyone to give you chills. Instead, it is a ghost story AND a story of greed and evil--almost like two different tales that are finally woven together at the end.
The acting is excellent (especially the kids at the orphanage),the writing is intelligent and the special effects, while not as omnipresent as in some movies, are excellent and really does the job of portraying a tortured ghost. I particularly thought the way the blood flowed from the skull of the ghost was a brilliant touch, though I won't say more because I don't want to ruin the story. And, the movie has one of the best endings I've seen in a long time.
Oh, and by the way, despite the word "devil" in the title, there's nothing in the movie that deals with Satan.
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It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A ten-year-old boy named Carlos, the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress named Carmen and a kindly Professor Casares, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Despite their concern for him, and his gradual triumph over the usual schoolhouse bully, Carlos never feels completely comfortable in his new environment. First of all, there was that initial encounter with the orphanage's nasty caretaker, Jacinto, who reacts even more violently when anyone is caught looking around a particular storage room the one with the deep well. Second, and more inexplicable, is the presence of a ghost, one of the former occupants of the orphanage named Santi. Not long after Carlos' arrival, Santi latches onto Carlos, badgering him incessantly at night and gloomily intoning, "Many of you will die." As if that wasn't enough to keep the orphanage's occupants in an unrelenting state of terror, there's the un-exploded bomb that dominates the orphanage's courtyard, still ticking away; With the orphanage left defenseless by its isolation, and the swift progression of Franco's troops, the ghost's prediction seems depressingly accurate. Nevertheless, with every step of the plot, it becomes apparent that the ghost's predictions as to who (or what) will die, the real source of danger and even the definition of death itself may be more ambiguous than first thought.
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