– By Stephen Harper
When Netflix dropped Spanish director Paco Plaza’s new film Veronica, I doubt even they predicted it would be getting the attention it’s had. Some people are dubbing it “The scariest film ever” and it’s supposedly based on a real events, so naturally I had to check it out to see what all the fuss was about as I’m a fan of Plaza’s REC movies, so I knew he would cook up some decent scares.
The story is set in Madrid in 1991 and focuses on teenager Veronica. The eldest of three siblings who’s basically a full time carer for the children. She cooks, cleans and does everything a mother should be doing. Unfortunately Veronica’s mother is constantly busy at work and never at home since their father has passed away.
Things kick off pretty quickly as Veronica and her two friends sneak away from the rest of their classmates on the day everyone, including teachers, are busy outside experiencing an eclipse. They creep into the school’s basement and pull out a Ouija board that comes free with an occult magazine. The magazine clearly states “As seen on TV”, which I found quite amusing, but I guess nothing surprises me.
Obviously things don’t go as planned and instead of communicating with Veronica’s dead father something else comes through. I’m not too sure if this was down to the eclipse or none of the girls performed a proper close down, but Veronica collapses in a fit. She finds herself in the school nurse’s room unaware of what’s transpired.
Her relationship with her friends post incident deteriorates sharply and they isolate Veronica socially. Things go from bad to worse as she starts experiencing paranormal activity in her home. Strange dreams, items moving and violent episodes towards her younger siblings. Having to deal with all this by herself is the real pull of the movie. Sandra Escacena (Veronica) is very good as the lead and extremely authentic, not only in the horror set pieces, but also during the more subtle scenes when she’s playing off against the other children, who are also very good and believable.
What eventually plays out is Veronica taking a stand against the entity to protect her siblings. Even though it’s based on a true paranormal case, as a piece of film it unfortunately suffers from predictable jump scares that are not very frightening and are probably on the same level as most Blumhouse movies or films catered for the PG-13 audience. Why I believe it’s been such a hit is because of the popularity of these similar styled horror movies such as The Conjuring and its spin-offs, so Veronica becomes an easy companion piece.
The film does have some beautiful moments though. Its setting and performances are extremely good and it just about restrains from getting too silly with the CGI effects.
Its opening scene is what really hooks you as we hear Veronica’s screams over the police radio as they race towards her apartment building through a rain-drenched Madrid. This was by far the best part of the film. Unfortunately the rest of it doesn’t hit the same heights.