Movie Review: Veronica (2017)

Veronica (2017)

V_screaming1_after_seance

Cast

  • Sandra Escacena as Verónica
  • Bruna González as Lucía
  • Claudia Placer as Irene
  • Iván Chavero as Antoñito
  • Ana Torrent as Ana
  • Consuelo Trujillo as Hermana Muerte
  • Sonia Almarcha
  • Maru Valduvielso
  • Leticia Dolera
  • Ángela Fabián as Rosa
  • Carla Sampra
  • Samuel Romero

Director: Paco Plaza

Spoiler free review

Yes, this ‘Verónica ‘ is the one set at the Catholic School in early 1990s Spain, instead of a remote cabin in Spain. It can be confusing as they were both released in the same year, and both on Netflix with identical names, but the one we’re discussing right now is the one (very very) loosely based on the first ‘paranormal’ Police report where inexplicable events were officially recorded as ‘fact’. Which, OK, gives it a little more weight than most ‘true’ horror films.

Reality or not, this is an effectively told story of madness and possible possession. The titular Verónica is a schoolgirl tasked with, mostly, raising her little brother and sister alone while their mother has to work. Then she and her friends perform a seance in the school basement during an (always ominous) solar eclipse, and from then on everything about Veronica’s reality gets called into question. Her life gradually falls apart. Strange stains and scary figures start to appear in the family’s tiny apartment, and a creepy blind nun seems to know more than first appears. Has Veronica caught the notice of a ghastly demonic influence? Or is it something more mundane? The original police report certainly lent towards the former…so what really happened to this schoolgirl?

V_blind_nun_eyestosee

Clearly an ‘Event Horizon’ fan…

Well, it’s still a horror film, though genre fans’ tolerance may vary, as we spend a lot of time following this schoolgirl’s quite humdrum life. She’s a mother to her little siblings, dealing with with wet bed sheets, trying to do homework, and still grieving for her dead father (hence the Ouija experiment). The very domestic angle and naturalistic acting is needed and grounds the threat, so the corrupting evil is even more of a violation. Verónica’s increasing vulnerability is vital as she’s pushed by her responsibilities into increasingly resentful isolation. Losing control is one of the scariest things in the world, and the film uses this fear to pummel you with unease, while Verónica struggles hard to keep a grip on her sanity. But there will be no sanctuary in her bed, or anywhere else within their dingy apartment. Something terrible is coming for them all.

Capturing the terror of a teenager well out of her depth, the film is incredibly well crafted and looks gorgeous. Shadows and coloured lights are perfectly used, and the soundtrack is beautiful; soaring electronic eeriness gets mixed with the odd early-1990s rock injection. The atmosphere is often chilling, and although Verónica was marketed as the most terrifying film ever, if you’re not frightened by much, then you probably won’t be too frightened by any of it for long. But that’s a shame. This is a scary, rewarding story of madness and repression, and it conjures up some very fresh and often brilliantly unsettling imagery. Even if you think you’ve seen it all before, there’s still plenty to be afraid of and enjoy. Oh, and seriously, kids and teenagers, please stop messing with those damn Ouija boards. It almost never ends well…

Spoilers below:

 

I really enjoyed this and found the tall, terrifying demonic entity that haunts Veronica to be perfectly monstrous. It’s not constantly going ‘boo’ but its shadowy appearance is more than enough to tip anyone over the edge. With a similar feel to the Babadook – is it all in her head? – the reveal that sends Veronica to her doom is the perfect payoff to the tension. I feel bad for everyone in the original case, but it has inspired a gorgeous movie steeped in religious superstition. If you don’t like the kids, then you probably won’t like the movie, but I found the child actors to be very endearing and incredibly believable. If the story is somewhat over familiar, it pays mild homage at best and does great things with it. There’s a moment that’s very much like the attack on Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters, which may or may not raise a smile or recognition and a scream of horror. It was pretty horrific in Ghostbusters, after all! Also the ‘Simon’ game was used very effectively in one of the Paranormal Activity films.

Shout-outs aside, I really liked this movie, and as a final note I want to give yet another cheer for its frickin’ beautiful soundtrack and imagery. The use of the advert jingle in a seance was another nice touch. For most fans of demons and creepy horror, with a little patience, Verónica is well worth a look.

The Good

  • Familiar plot but created in a fresh, interesting way
  • Great child actors
  • Domestic setting and strained family life grounds the movie
  • Decent twist brings her sanity into question

The Bad

  • Familiar plot of demon haunting
  • Kids in horror movies, booo
  • Too domestic
  • Predictable twist?
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KICKSTARTER SUNDAY: Untitled Horror Film

Untitled Horror Film by JP Bankes-Mercer

Untitled Horror Film poster one number eleven

Number Eleven and a haunted house

Funding Deadline: 5th July 2013
Funding Goal: £5,000
What is it?: 95% finished, feature-length horror film.
Why does the Eyeball love it and want to have its freaky kids?
We’re intrigued by the giggling insanity of the lead actress, and want to know the creepy significance of the number eleven.

Visit the movie’s official page and on Twitter and Facebook.

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KICKSTARTER SUNDAY: Third Contact by Simon Horrocks

Third Contact by Si Horrocks

Also visit the movie’s official page and their Twitter and Facebook pages

Funding Deadline: July 10, 2013
Funding Goal: £15,000
What is it?: Surreal cerebral horror film which needs help to reach the big screen
Why does the Eyeball love it and want to have its freaky kids?
The film has already come a long way, but with an extra push it could make it into the mainstream. And we love a creepy mystery with early David Lynch aesthetics.

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Monster Mondays: Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011 film)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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KICKSTARTER SUNDAY: The Farmer by Wyatt Michael

The Farmer by Wyatt Michael

Also visit the movie’s official page and Facebook page.

Funding Deadline: 30th June 2013
Funding Goal: $100,000
What is it?: Full length horror film set in the Old West
Why does the Eyeball love it and want to have its freaky kids?
We love a creepy story from way-back-when, told over a crackling camp fire.:

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DRIP (1996) Short film. Dir. Steven Gomez

Yes, another short horror film from youtube,  only this time I’ve sought it out deliberately. It took a bit of finding, too. I can remember catching this on a very late night Channel 4 screening, according to imdb it was in 1996. Jeez, quite a while back then.

Anyway, the story itself should be familiar to anyone who’s been told scary stories by sadistic older kids growing up, or who takes even a passing interest in urban legends. The YouTube video of this which I’ve posted below is a bit grainy but otherwise not bad.

I ask you to give it a chance, in a dark room fairly late at night, and see what you think. I found a large but not full screen version the best way of viewing this.

SPOILERS AND ANALYSIS

I remember ‘Drip’ being a lot scarier, actually, proving that those who watch things through their fingers are actually sparing themselves less scary dodgy animatronics and effectively making films more terrifying than they really are. But the atmosphere of isolation, the rising dread in the creaking house and the gliding, stalking camera that tracks the ‘lonely woman’ work beautifully. With just two – or perhaps three characters – this is a great short horror film.

It really isn’t one for dog lovers – I feel even worse about the Fly’s fate than I did the first time I watched it, he’s such a sweetheart; but to warn anyone of this before viewing is just spoiling the scare. It is a horror, and pets are usually first in the murder line. I also think most people will already know this story. It’s a very well known urban legend, albeit with a very supernatural pay-off, frankly it’s is up there with ‘hook man’ and ‘Bloody Mary’. It was even subtly referenced in an episode of Supernatural. It’s part of the reason I remembered this short film so clearly.

While I was looking for this piece of nostalgic horror, I noticed several hundred other versions of the ‘Drip’ story just searching on YouTube alone. The story evolves all the time, from when it’s being told around the campfire or by an evil older sibling. The version I’ve heard is the other most common one, with the creature under the bed the requisite escaped lunatic, and sometimes the lady is infirm, very elderly or completely blind. While this was a more down to earth, more scarily possible version of the story, I like the way that in Drip (2006) the thing is a demon of some sort which she has somehow disturbed.  Now, the problem with the reveal of a demon, rather than a creepy man, under the bed is mainly that I’m a bit surprised the demon didn’t simply nip her fingers off while she was patting it for reassurance. Is it just messing with her? Was it using the dripping noise deliberately, to lure her upstairs? That suggests a level of central plumbing knowledge that demons may or may not possess, whether they’re fictional or not. Given how the poor dog ends up, I’m going with the monster ‘messing with her’.

The strength of true horror, and the urban legends in particular, rests in being unaware of how close you are to something evil until its proximity is revealed. The scary thing about ‘Drip’ is the realisation that she (standing in for us, the viewer) has touched the horror, put herself in danger. That the threat has been barely avoided, but is still lurking somewhere in the house, hiding under the very bed she/you were just sleeping in. And you put your hands on it!
As a final note:
The story ends at its most terrifying point, and leaves me curious about what happens next. Does she run out of the house screaming, driving off? Would she make it as far as the door before it came after her? Is that even what it wants? Is it just under the bed because the previous owners kept it as a pet to keep out burglars? What is it? I honestly remember a more terrifying face under the bed than the one here, but realistically I still wouldn’t want to run into it in the dark, on my own, in a house when I’d just found the eviscerated remains of my pet dog. Nope, pretty much anything is a best-case scenario compared to that.
That’s why Steven Gomez’s ‘Drip’ is a terrific retelling of an urban legend which refuses to die.