From the director who brought us the darling indie/horror film, “[REC]” back in 2007, Paco Plaza, comes another Spanish horror film, “Verónica.” Departing from the found-footage style of filming for which his original film “[REC]” was known for, Plaza instead chooses a more traditional style (probably because people are tired of found footage after the never-ending spree of “Paranormal Activity” movies that seemed to come out every six months a few years back). “Verónica” takes place in Madrid in 1991 and follows the tale of a young girl who, after a failed Ouija board séance, finds herself haunted by a demonic being.
If you hadn’t guessed by that brief plot synopsis, “Verónica” falls into the trap of being too cliché. If you’ve seen one demonic possession movie, you’ve seen the vast majority of them and “Verónica” is no different. The plot of the film is painfully slow and rather dull. You follow Verónica around as things slowly start to escalate over the one-hour-and-fifty-minute runtime. Unlike a good movie that keeps the viewer interested throughout the movie, this film definitely feels like it’s two-hours long (I even noticed I had checked my watch multiple times throughout the numerous boring parts of this film).
With a plot as clichéd as this one was, I didn’t expect the acting to be as good as it was. Sandra Escacena and the child-actors who played her siblings definitely earned their paychecks with this one. Escacena, in particular, was especially convincing in her role as the character the movie takes its name from. During the parts where she needs to be a caring older sister, shackled by having to parent her three younger siblings—because her mother is a workaholic—you find yourself feeling sympathetic toward her just as much as when she is being haunted by a demon. On the topic of the child actors, they were pretty good at their parts for their age. They’re no “Stranger Things” or “IT” kids, but all-in-all these actors do a good job with what they’re given, I just wish they were given a better plot to work with.
Despite the bland plot, the movie is really carried by its visuals. The horror segments were visually very interesting. Even some of the non-horror elements were visually pleasing, like the character of the blind nun who was a sort of imposing figure throughout the first two-acts of the film. The standout part of the film was certainly the last act, however. When things start to hit the fan near the end I found myself on the edge of my seat.
There seemed to be a marketing push for this film as “the scariest film ever on Netflix,” which I found odd. Reading through all these social media posts makes “Verónica” where some users were claiming that they were crying and forced to shut off the movie was strange. For me, the horror elements never really crossed the line into actual scares, the horror was more like a medium to show interesting things. The one problem I had with the horror elements was the uninspired creature design of the big, bad monster. Instead of creating an interesting design for the main entity, they turned it into a burnt marshmallow-man. I found myself getting taken out of the “scary” segments whenever it was on screen because it just looks really dumb. They could’ve gone with a more cliché shadow being and it would have been more effective.
Overall, I had a good time watching “Verónica,” as cliché as it was. The horror segments were fascinating and the other parts were decent at worst thanks to the top notch acting. I’d stay away from this film if you don’t feel like reading subtitles for two-hours or if you’re not particularly interested in horror elements. If you just want to look at some neat horror visuals though, it’s definitely not the worst thing on Netflix.
(Note for Editor: There are two Spanish films that came out around the same time called “Verónica” , this is the one in the article https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5862312/ )