Review: Mild scares are served up in VERONICA
Two weeks ago myself, and much of the Facebook universe, hadn’t heard of a film called “Veronica” a Spanish import that, quietly, debuted on Netflix in February. Suddenly, there were headlines popping up on news-feeds with clickbait titles like “Veronica is so scary people can’t even finish it!” So, naturally, you see something like that and you immediately take it as a challenge “I can watch that movie” you tell yourself. Yes, you can. You see, those headlines and articles aren’t fair to the filmmakers of “Veronica” because it’s creating expectations, that would be lofty for ANY movie, not just this one. Honestly, it’s setting up the movie to be a failure. While I’m sure the crew is happy their film is being seen by a wide audience, those that finish this flick - (and I’m sure many can) - will despise it. Because it’s creating this precedent that if you don’t feel the need to turn your TV off, then the movie’s failed. Here’s the thing: it really doesn’t.
I don’t think those implausible headlines were created by the studio in an attempt to get more views (the film was already a hit overseas) - rather some people genuinely were scared and didn’t finish the film. The fact is, everyone’s different, and we all know our own boundaries and if we could handle a film like “Veronica.” So with all those things in mind, I implore you, the viewer, to watch the film objectively and not with all the recent hype surrounding it, or else you will be disappointed.
“Veronica” isn’t a great horror film, rather a formulaic and effective one. The final images are ones that linger with you long after it’s over. Sandra Escacana plays the titular role in Madrid 1991. The film opens with a 911 call begging for help, we don’t know what’s going on, except we see an expression on detective Romero’s (Chema Adeva) face and we backtrack to three days prior. Now we all know that playing with Ouija boards in horror films never spell good news. So when Veronica and her buddies decide to set up one inside the girls bathroom during a solar eclipse, you might very well roll your eyes right there. The preface to this scene is that in Madrid’s culture, performing these kind of rituals during an eclipse is a big no no. Bringing forth unwanted demonic entities into reality. But Veronica wants to make contact with her father who passed away some years prior, so we forgive her.
Yet, we know what comes out of this and while something does happen because of this ritual, you can be sure it won’t be her father stopping by to say hello. Director Paco Plaza clearly knows horror, and is in love with the genre. Some of his scenes are very unsettling, despite following a basic structure that’s guided these movies for decades. I suppose in that regard, I liked what the movie was trying to do, even if it feels cheap. Veronica does have a family she looks after while her mom works around the clock, and at her Catholic high school she has confrontations with a blind nun that smokes like a chimney. They all add fascinating background for Veronica to build upon, and helps make her actions seem relatable. Escacena, in her first big role, does a fine job at following the material. If the movie can’t sell you, she just might.
So now that you’ve read my review you can head on over to Netflix (if you haven’t already) and take a peek for yourself. It’s really a double edged sword this film because, if not for the headlines, people wouldn’t be so disappointed, but they also would’ve never watched the movie in the first place.