Paco Plaza’s ‘Veronica’ is an Entertaining Supernatural Fright-fest
During a solar eclipse, three teenage girls conduct a séance with a Ouija board. The séance goes wrong and the girls run away scared. One of the girls is Veronica. She lives with her two sisters and one brother. With her mother away at work most of the time, she is the matriarch of the family.
After the séance, strange things start happening to her. She has terrible nightmares, starts developing weird marks, and she sees a strange man inside her apartment. It appears that she is being haunted.
Veronica is an excellent main character. She is played by Sandra Escacena who does an excellent job of being the assertive yet terrified de facto head of the family. Her siblings are also well played, offering the film some warmth and humanity before things start going terribly wrong.
Like all good horror movies the haunting is a manifestation of all of Veronica’s anxieties, including her fear of womanhood (She still hasn’t menstruated at age 16) and her anxieties about the death of her father (whom she was trying to contact with the séance). The story plays out with few surprises but the conventional haunting beats (a children’s toy that comes on by itself! How original!) are revitalised by an excellent visual style. The opening has Fincher-esque qualities to its car-mounted cameras and gritty city streets and some of the techniques used to illustrate the characters disorientation are very innovative.
The monster is also excellent. Initially an intimidating naked man, the creature soon gains black skin. Hideous black stains indicate where he has manifested in the house. It’s a creepy presence and the filmmakers know to keep him in the shadows.
It even manages to breathe some life into the fairly conventional structure of an exorcism ending. The main characters gather around and begin chanting in an attempt to banish the demon, only for doors to start slamming and furniture to go flying. Things then get quite abstract as the character becomes an unreliable narrator. It’s very reminiscent of last year’s Under The Shadow, but within the claustrophobic confines of Madrid, as presented by director Paco Plaza.
Veronica treads familiar ground but has just enough energy and innovation to make it an entertaining supernatural horror movie.
3.5 / 5