Horror films rely a lot on atmosphere. Often so, stories take a backseat in such films. Horror in recent times has become a caricature of itself, gleefully dishing out grotesque abnormalities with a side of incessant gore and with a big pitcher of jump scares. The Conjuring provided a much-needed relief to the genre in the sense that it brought the element of atmosphere back to horror, and this has led to many more in the form of films like Don’t Breathe , Annabelle: Creation, Ouija:Origin of Evil , Get Out and Lights Out. What followed was a resurgence in the quality of Horror cinema. The reason why I speak so much about the modern evolution of horror is since Veronica itself is a product of such evolution. A brainchild of Paco Plaza of REC trilogy fame, Veronica manages to hold you tight in its grip, even though it is the same recycled glass bottle of clichés
The story, set in 1991 Madrid, is of a young girl burdened with the weight of babysitting her three small siblings. Her mother runs a bar and due to this, works late at night and is overworked. Her father is…well…. dead. The story takes off when Veronica conducts a séance in the basement of her Catholic convent school along with her two friends. It takes for a drastic turn when the séance doesn’t go as planned and is left with a demonic entity latching onto her. I will refrain from saying any more, but if you are a horror aficionado like me, you will probably have guessed where the story will head next.
But the achievement of Veronica is not in its story, but in its execution
What starts out as a film falling downward in genre tropes, finds its footing in less than 25 minutes of runtime and becomes a gripping saga of family burdens and paranormal activity. The film manages well to portray the lifestyle of a working class urban Spanish family, giving us a relatable set of people and characters to focus on. This goes a long way, because it genuinely incites you into its world. The biggest necessity of a horror film is to give us characters that one relates to. Most horror films forgo that and that often results in us being apathetic towards the characters.
Veronica also benefits from its setting and from its cinematography. Neatly lit in darker hues, the film evokes an uneasy and uncomfortable atmosphere that helps in its effectiveness. Often dizzying angles and unconventional camera work delights in a genre that rarely gives us anything in terms of cinematography
The film scores mainly in its acting, particularly by Sandra Escacena
Sandra Escacena, portraying the eponymous character, manages to channel the teenager who is devoid of a social life. She essays a well displayed sense of loneliness due to the loss of her father but is still shown to be a responsible and kind mother figure to her siblings. The young actress is a good fit for the character, and its her acting that makes the film more effective than it should have been.
The film is not without its flaws. There are interesting imagery and mythos shown at the beginning which are never really explored upon. The emphasis of a certain astronomical event is severely and criminally underplayed in what could have been an exceptional direction for the story. Some supporting characters are never really focused on, making them and their motivations really make no sense at times. The entity also is kept a mystery throughout the film and it honestly doesn’t sit right with me and the eponymous character’s fascination with occult is never really given a chance to be explanatory.
All said, under a confident direction, a talented actress and visual atmosphere maintained throughout the runtime, Veronica transcends the genre in providing a real spooky film that takes the clichés of the genre to weave something new out of it. While the claims of the scariest film in modern times remains up to debate, the film will find a way in the better section of horror films. So sit back, stream it on Netflix and enjoy.
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Jack of many trades, but a master of none. A businessman by profession, but a chef by heart, Dipanjan has his hands dirty with photography and photoshop. He would spend all his day sleeping if he could, and makes the same resolution of losing weight every year(but to no avail) . Also has two daughters, which are actually dogs, but sshhh we don’t tell him that.