Veronica (2017)

Director: Paco Plaza
Starring: Sandra Escanaba, Bruna Gonzalez, ana Torrent, Claudia Picer, Ivan Chavero, Carla Campra. Spain. 1h 46m

So much about Veronica is like all the other ouija, catholic demonic inspired movies although it does have a few quirks and charms which make it stand out, not as something inventive and new but something relatable.

Veronica and her best friend have planned secret ouija based seance to contact Veronica’s deceased father, their golden opportunity is when the entire catholic school will be on the roof and outside to watch an eclipse.  There are are no awards to guess the rest of the movie, the ouija session goes terribly wrong and soon Veronica is the experiencing lots of paranormal activity around herself and home, but when this dark entity starts attacking her family, Veronica starts to research and does all she can to protect them.

Just because you close your eyes it doesn’t mean the world ceases to exist.

Plaza has found fame through a series of wholly gory Rec series which really broke through a new age of possession/zombie hybrids, and I believe like everyone else I was expecting the same from this movie which was initially billed as prequel.

With its roots in a real life case, although highly fantasised this coming of (dark) age thriller is more like your traditional haunting, and rings true with other cases such as Amityville (1979) and Entity (1982).

Veronica is a brilliant character, I always have reservations on how strong women are portrayed in horror films, especially when they are young and dealing with the occult. But there’s so much nostalgia about this girl and her life. She listens to Heroes of Silencio, dreams of being the girl across the road who has a family and more freedom, sadly Vero has to get up and get her adorable little brother and sisters ready for school everyday, being a surrogate mother to them while their mother works all hours at the family cafe, and a the pivotal moment in the film starts to lose her best friend to a popular girl and boys. I can relate. To a degree…

Vero is very much alone in her fight against evil, her mother is nearly totally absent, there’s one freaky sister at the school, lovingly known as Sister Death (this would so be my name if I were a nun), the blind woman sees the entities haunting Vero, she gives some advice but is very nonchalant about the whole affair. Her friends abandon her, the events in the basement of the school freaked them out so much and with the allure of young hot men and parties they turn their back on Vero, she’s just a creepy girl who has to look after her siblings, not all that exciting. This information is broken to Vero by her best friend in a cold and heartless way, I kinda wished she went back to her Ouija board and made a pact with the devil and sent the entity after her “friends” but alas she remains a noble woman until the bitter end.

It certainly has a glowing retro vibe to it, the original story was reported in NME and other music newspapers, this took me back to when I religiously read the paper but couldn’t remember this particular story. Much like Demon House (2018) the intricate details or the original case is clearly ignored, this isn’t an documentary just a reason to make a scary movie with some basis in reality to freak out those fans who do research.

For yet another demonic possession film, you’d trust Plaza with it after many successes,but with the slower pace and more brooding foe he fumbles a bit with this movie,seemingly wanting to run with it in short burst it sparks into action, but he quiet scenes aren’t as refined but overall there’s some great drama and scares.

When the going gets tough for poor Vero the film really starts to develop into a serious chilling horror, this all comes after a long mental breakdown of the vulnerable teen, the creature starts to manifest physically and the film beings to breed a whole new flavour of horror. Shadows creep along walls, protection spells are burnt to a crisp and deadly hands start attacking the children in the night. This coincides with the idea that maybe the film is dealing with a troubled teenager, and that Vero is doing all of this herself.

The film fails to really recognise the people involved in the real case,. There are some photos of the original *crime* scene and these are mimicked by the film quite accurately, but there’s no real homage to the past which is a minor let down, nothing that crushes the efforts put into the movie.

All in all and without much religious help we see Vero try her best to fight against an evil she accidentally let loose into the world. Much like Pandora she’s opens the box and lets something terrible in, but with only a few occult magazines and some rudimentary knowledge she does her best to protect her family. The results are catastrophic and with some slick camera angles and adept effects Plaza manages to deliver yet again into the world of demonic possession but with a different flavour and hopefully he’ll continue to contribute to this terrifying subject.

Rating: 6

R: Rec (2007), Rec 2 (2009), Amityville (1979), The Entity (1982), Demon House (2018)

L: Possession Films, Ouija Films, A-Z Spanish Horror,

5S: Paco Plaza, Ana Torrent

 

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