Director: Paco Plaza
Writers: Fernando Navarro, Paco Plaza
Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna Gonzalez, Claudia Placer, Ivan Chavero, Ana Torrent
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.
VERONICA is supernatural film that is unsurprisingly claims to be based on true events, something that the majority of films in this sub-genre purport to have. As with all of these instances unless you are familiar with the real-life tale it is, as a result, difficult to judge how much artistic licence the film makers take.
Now this is important because it may add context or realism which may help elevate the film and ensure that what we as a viewer witness is the true terror that unfolded. However no matter whether you believe or not, we are ultimately watching a piece of fiction (as opposed to a documentary or re-enactment) which has the primary aim to entertain…or perhaps scare in the case of horror.
It is exactly because of this latter point that VERONICA fails to hit the mark; while starting off promising enough there are too many dragged-out periods which seek to build context and develop character but merely succeed in stifling any momentum and boring the viewer as quite often we just don’t need that much information. As a result VERONICA would be a much better film had director Paco Plaza cut at least twenty, possibly even thirty minutes from its overlong run time (of 1 hour 45).
In regards to these moments of character development credit has to be given to all of the young actors for their performances in this film as no matter what issues may lay with the film, the acting is not one of them and the difficult family life is conveyed with much realism. However this aspect is fast becoming a repetitive theme in the sub-genre and gives the film a sense of over-familiarity with easy comparisons being THE CONJURING 2 from 2016, INSIDIOUS 3 from 2105 and THE BABADOOK from 2014. All of which deal with a struggling lone (female) parent who is unable to cope with and to understand what is going on even before the spirit enters the scene.
And this is perhaps the main issue that I had with the film. For all the positives and the few genuinely good moments, ultimately the attempts to inject some emotional connection seem too forced and there was very little to make the film stand out against its peers, ultimately leaving it feeling like a competent rehash of older ideas. And by older we do not even have to go back even five years.
Overall VERONICA is a disappointing effort from the man who brought us the fantastic [REC]3: GENESIS (and additionally co-directed the first two of the series) and is hard to recommend. However if you are a big fan of the paranormal/possession sub-genre then there may be just enough in this film to make it worth investigating.
This was reviewed based on the Netflix (UK) version of the film.