Veronica is the latest horror movie to appear on Netflix. This is said to be the “scariest horror film ever”, a film so terrifying that people can’t even finish the movie. So is this film really that intense? I could tell you now, but you would miss a whole series of thought-laden paragraphs, so I can’t do that to you. You’ll have to wait until the end (no prematurely scrolling down now, as I’m onto you).
Veronica is set in Madrid (circa 1991), and is based on real life events that took place in Spain at the same time. In the real world of 1992, a girl named Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro dabbled with the forces of an Ouija board, and died mysteriously six months later. While this film takes references from those events, it still does its own thing.
During a solar eclipse, 15-year old Veronica and two of her schoolmates skip the event, and instead try to open communication with “the other side”. Veronica hopes to make contact with her deceased father. What they end up summoning is definitely far more menacing than they could have anticipated.
Veronica takes place over three days, though the film opens in chaos. What leads to these dark events takes place through one long flashback. Even without a demonic influence, Veronica has a difficult and sympathetic life: Her father is dead, she acts as a surrogate mother to her three younger siblings while their real mother works all day (and night) shifts, and she is having to deal with puberty and all the changes that come with a girl entering adulthood. A demonic entity would have to take a number in this already full schedule, but of course, it forcefully pushes itself to the front of the line.
This Spanish film, directed by Paco Plaza, is a classic demonic possession story where all of the main protagonists are kids. There aren’t many long-term adult interactions in the film, save for the blind, chain-smoking nun, “Sister Death”, who can also see the shadows beyond the veil.
The performances of the kids in this film are excellent. Sandra Escacena, who plays the titular character (also known as Vero), presents a strong and isolated performance of trying to protect her siblings while fighting the demon that wants to harm them all. Even the little kids put up great performances. You will believe that these kids are scared of every messed up thing happening around them.
Horror films can be predictable at times, as many follow certain familiar and traditional beats. Some things I called well in advance, other elements just screamed “bad idea” from the initial planning, while other twists did catch me off guard. There are some great visual effects, unique camera angles, and some clever transitions during traveling scenes.
Is this the “scariest horror film ever”? Honestly, I’d have to say “No”. Its so-called championship title is likely the result of internet-laden hyperbole that websites are likely using to generate clicks. Either that, or people really need to expand their horror movie range. Veronica is, however, very creepy at times, and unsettling at others. The film is competent and put together very well, and there are a solid handful of “Oh, crap” spooky moments. It also helps that the film’s leads are sympathetic and likable, and other than a few unfortunate mistakes, no one does anything flat-out stupid, which is a relief.
For the sake of this review, there are plot points that I can’t discuss for “spoiler” reasons, and this film seems to have flown under the radar with little fanfare. Is Veronica worth a watch? I’d say “Yes”, but as a foreign film, the film does feature subtitles for the dialogue, so be prepared to do a little reading with your shock value.
For more foreign horror, check out Kaiser’s review of Train to Busan.