Paco Plaza’s “[REC]” movies are said to have disappointed greatly, or at least the last two that he made. Veronica is his first feature-length journey into a more psychological, ‘Conjuring’ style horror movie. There’s no doubt he has talent enough to remain a player among other global genre talents. Veronica is a somewhat long-winded tale of the demonic invasion. It’s not the scariest movie ever made, nor is it likely to become your favorite. It is, however, a brilliantly made horror film that most should be able to enjoy, if for no other reason than the incredible child actors.
Veronica is based on a true crime that occurred in Madrid, Spain from 1991 called the Vallecas Case. An 18-year-old Estafania Gutierrez Lazaro who, after conducting a seance on an Ouija Board, began to experience the increasingly violent paranormal phenomenon, suffered from hallucinations and seizures, seeing shadowy figures, and sometimes barking at her younger siblings.
Scratches began to appear on Estafania’s body, and she became convinced that a monster was coming after her and her younger siblings. The night she died, Lazaro is said to have called the police screaming “He’s in here!” The police rushed to the scene only to find the apartment had been completely trashed, blood everywhere, and the body of a teen-ages girl. Tragically, Estafania passed away on August 1991.
The film opens with police racing to where they received a call from what sounds like a terrified young girl. Arriving at the apartment they witness a horrible scene, which is not actually shown until the ending of the movie. Suddenly we’re rewinding to the three days before this to find 15-year-old Veronica, or “Vero” as her friends and family call her, waking her three young siblings. After feeding them, she’s shown escorting them off to school. It soon becomes clear that Veronica does most of the parenting that their newly widowed, waitress-employed mother (Ana Torrent) unfortunately neglects because of working late hours and sleeping most of the day.
During a solar eclipse, we find everyone in the Catholic school outside watching it the rare event. Veronica is joined by her friends, Rosa and Diana, as they go down to the basement of the school to hold a seance through an Ouija Board (not very original) in an attempt to contact Veronica’s dead father. Pulling out the photo of her father they begin. It isn’t long before the makeshift palette ( a small glass jar) starts moving, startling all three girls.
The ordeal actually goes as planned, a little too well in fact, as Veronica enters some sort of possessed, trance-like state. Things take a turn for the worse when the glass shatters and cuts Veronica’s finger, dripping blood all over the Ouija Board and causing her to pass out. However, she seems to recover quickly after the other two girls find her laying on the floor. She’s seen whispering something (which we cannot hear) into Rosa’s ear, which in turn causes her to keep her distance from Veronica from that day on. You next see Veronica quickly sit up and, opening her mouth unnaturally wide, lets out a demonic sounding scream. I half expected to see a swarm of flies, or locusts pouring out but that never happened.
We next see Veronica being checked over by a school nurse, and later returns home, only to realize that things are not how they used to be. It’s not long before she starts witnessing strange occurrences in the apartment; a thin, featureless figure shadowing the hallways, items falling off shelves for no apparent reason, and something hurting her little brother and sisters.
Veronica also begins having visions; her dead father for one, naked and slowly walking towards her, her siblings trying to eat her alive, lights flickering on and off, and her brother believing that their father has come to read him a story. The only one who’s aware of what’s going on besides Veronica is an elderly blind nurse the school kids call “Sister Death,” a nun presumed by the other nuns to be senile and deranged, and hangs out in the basement smoking cigarettes.
Sister Death tells Veronica that she must now protect her young siblings, and to also correctly end the seance she started with her friends, and only then will she have a chance to survive. After believing this is her only option, Veronica attempts another seance, this time with the assistance of her two younger sisters.
While the movie never gets as scary as I had hoped it would be. While the scare factors really aren’t stirring enough to compensate for the fact that we are never going find out why Veronica was the “chosen” one in the first place, or who the demonic entity was, there’s no shortage of captivating scenes or the down-right creepy atmosphere, especially during the last 10 minutes. At the end of the day, however, you know a horror film has been a big success if it can make your heart pound out of your chest. Right?
On a side note, Veronica was nominated for multiple Goya Awards (the Spanish version of the Academy Awards), including Best Special Effects and Best Sound. And for the most part, Veronica, Plaza, and Navarro do exactly that!
Release Date: August 27, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Genre: Horror, Drama, Paranormal
Studio: Apaches Entertainment
Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero
MPAA Rated: TV-MA
Directors: Paco Plaza
Reviewed by: Mad Hatter
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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