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Verónica, A Review

veronica

Verónica is a spooky movie, with varying depth.

Paco Plaza’s 2017 horror film Verónica gained a lot of press when it went on Netflix a few years ago. Lots of click-bait was going around surrounding the movie, claiming it was the scariest film on Netflix, and one would have to struggle to get through it. 

Is that true? While sure, art is subjective, but no. This press around Verónica got it a lot of views, which then garnered in turn hyped it up, leaving a polarized viewing experience. Audiences were either pleased with it, and the scares it contained, believing it lived up to the hype, or they were disappointed, upset that it didn’t deliver on all they had heard about it. 

Verónica follows three days in the life of Spanish high schooler, Verónica (Sandra Escacena) and her three younger siblings, Irene (Claudia Placer), Lucía (Bruna González), and Antoñito (Iván Chavero), in the summer of 1991. 

Verónica is a normal girl, a freshman, who does a lot to take care of her little siblings. After their father passed, their mother, Ana (Ana Torrent) needed to work around the clock to support them, leaving Verónica with a great deal of responsibility.

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ouija veronica

The film begins by revealing the end of the third act, to show the audience where everything ends, and giving the viewer hints as to how the story resolves. It then backtracks to three days before, on the day of a total solar eclipse. Verónica’s school is preparing by teaching astronomy lessons and making sure everyone has safe eye protection to view the celestial event. However, Verónica has other plans. 

Her and her friend Rosa, along with Rosa’s friend Diana decide to have a seance with a Ouija board in the basement of the school. Verónica wants to speak to her late father, and Rosa wants to speak to her dead boyfriend. The seance is less than ideal, ending with the board breaking, the lights going out, and Verónica in a fugue state, muttering to herself. 

Verónica is a bit of standard fare for contemporary horror. Ouija board possession, unexplained bruises, flickering lights, doors opening and closing, you know the deal. While these tactics are executed effectively and tastefully, they are a bit, expected. One half of tried and true is indeed tired. 

The main issue with Verónica is that the viewer is unsure what the film concerns itself with. It is prefaced with the fact that it is based on a true story; on the record of a detective working on the case of a dead teenager who had recently become interested in the occult. 

This is where the weight of the film lies. The true horror comes in imagining how these events transpired in real life, to the teen who passed away, Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro. There is of course creative extrapolation, involving exploring Verónica’s relationship with her dead father, and his possible involvement in her haunting. Which leaves the majority of the plot simply Verónica investigating her haunting, which is satisfying in part, but leaves something to be desired. 

As does the entity. Throughout the film, the entity is shown as a vague looking humanoid figure with gnarled black skin and little to no features. It crosses doors, windows, and behind glass in a slow menacing way, ever present and just out of sight. It would be perhaps scarier if there was no physical embodiment of the haunting, and the viewer was left to wonder just what this thing is.

This is reconciled partially by the performances. Escacena is convincing and empathetic in the titular role, and her rapport with her younger cast mates is quite endearing and realistic. They are a pleasure to watch, and help up the stakes of the film, as the viewer becomes quite partial to them and their dynamic. 

Part of the theme of Verónica involves consequences. Multiple times throughout the piece the idea of facing consequences, and righting wrongs is touched upon. Which makes sense partially, Verónica must reckon with her irresponsibility with the Ouija. However it all seems a bit harsh. It almost seems to imply that a young woman should be punished for trying to commune with her dead father whom she misses. 

The world of the film contributes nicely to the tension, however, like other aspects, it is a bit standard. There is Christian imagery, particularly at the school, with the nuns and religious lectures, as well as at the apartment the family lives in, they have crosses etc. The most interesting images come near the end of the film, when Verónica is putting up sigils to protect her family from the entity she summoned. She draws Nordic runes for protection and hangs them up, and even has her little siblings draw similar sigils on the walls. 

Verónica is a fun watch. It’s creepy, it’s got some good scares, but overall it is quite predictable and standard fare these days. It’s worth watching if you are interested in the true story, or some fascinating performances from young talented actors. With a slow(ish) burn and a thrilling third act, Verónica should amuse journeyed horror fans, and scare those new to the genre. 

Take a look at the trailer for “Veronica,” if you dare!

Source: Dead Talk Live

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