DIRECTOR: Paco Plaza
Set in Madrid, June of 1991. Veronica is a teenage girl who is trying to overcome the death of her father. Her mother also works all day in a bar which leaves Veronica the one in charge of her three younger siblings. During a solar eclipse, Veronica and two friends decide to play around with an Ouija board to contact their dead relatives. The friends instead, invite in something far darker.
When Veronica made its way onto Netflix, it made a pretty big splash. The movie was touted as the next great scare-fest. Some reports were calling this the scariest horror film ever made. Lists suddenly made their way onto the wide-web after the movie had premiered on the streaming service that had this listed as one of the top ten creepiest films you can now watch. The promotional campaign was in full-swing for Veronica. It was the hype-machine working overtime. I got caught up in the whirlwind.
The movie is directed by Paco Plaza. He is no stranger to the horror genre. He is the man responsible for creating one of the greatest, and scariest found-footage zombie movies of all time with [REC]. The movie was an incredibly intense, and low-budget zombie film that utilized the found-footage genre, in the same way, The Blair Witch Project kind of revolutionised it. It was also released at a time when the sub-genre wasn't oversaturated with hundreds of the same sort of movie. His experiment had paid off and hit at the exact right time.
With Veronica, Paco Plaza has now turned his sights on the Supernatural genre. Here we have another sub-genre of horror that has been wildly popular over recent years with franchises like The Conjuring universe or the Insidious and Paranormal Activity franchises. Veronica feels very akin to those films. So much so that at times, it feels almost beat for beat in the way that a lot of the tension is ramped-up or how a lot of these set-pieces play out. This is what probably hurts Veronica the most. It feels like a case of 'i've seen this all before.' It doesn't feel like it breaks any new ground.
Another issue that I had with Veronica was that the movie was awfully slow. I'm not going to lie, this took me three watches over two separate nights to get through the entire thing. The movie runs at a respectable hour and forty-five minutes. However, the way that this story drags on, it feels like it clocks in at over two hours. At times, this was honestly boring to me. The story is meant to be based on a real crime and event. I just didn't find myself invested with a lot of what was happening on screen.
Visually, I think Veronica looked excellent. Paco Plaza is a talented filmmaker. I will never deny that. This is probably his most polished looking film to date. The entire sequence with the solar eclipse was a highlight for me. I also feel confident that he knows how to capture the darker material well. While a lot of the horror effects feel familiar as I mentioned above, he is still able to deliver us a solid looking movie. My biggest gripe is how similar the final demonic attack scene looked. The entity, and what takes place, looks almost identical to Ouija: Origin Of Evil.
When it comes to the suspense and tension, I think Veronica has a few very creepy moments. There's a sequence that features demonic entities that are naked and for some reason, it really makes me uncomfortable. A dead person naked is just a very eerie piece of imagery. Also, the fact that this happens around a teenage girl makes this even scarier. I also thought the 'Sister of Death' character may be the creepiest nun in a film since The Nun in The Conjuring 2. I also enjoyed the fact that she was sassy in her delivery towards Veronica.
I think the acting in Veronica is the highlight. I've never personally seen any of the actors or recognise them from any television or movies, but I found them all to be very solid. I believe that the entire film rests on the shoulders of Sandra Escacena and she gets put through the wringer in this movie. What really surprised me was how brilliant the three young kids performances turned out. Child actors can either make or break a performance. Sometimes, we get shining examples. Then we have other times where an audience is subjected to the annoying brat from The Babadook.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the opening scene and final showdown. Paco Plaza does something that really frustrates me with horror films. He opens the film at the end. He leads right up to the very moment we are about to witness that final horrifying shot and then cuts back to a few days before the terrible events. What makes all of this so annoying is that it basically lays out exactly where this film will end up. While he has some restraint and doesn't show us the character, we know exactly where this will lead and it adds no element of surprise.
DEATH TOLL: 0
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Little children chew open a teenage girls flesh.
- A demon rams its arm down a girls throat.
- Blood forms under a sheet.
- A girl cuts her hand open on glass.
Veronica is a film that has seen its fair share of hype. As soon as it landed on Netflix. People were already calling this the scariest film ever made. The articles and lists that came out only added fuel to the fire. Going into Veronica with that type of knowledge, I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed by it. On a technical level, the movie is gorgeous. Some of the imagery is also incredibly creepy. What lets it down the most is pacing problems and an all too familiar retread of supernatural tropes. This sadly won't break any new ground.