VERÓNICA (2017) Reviews of Spanish supernatural horror

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Verónica is a 2017 Spanish horror film directed by Paco Plaza (Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt; [REC] films) from a screenplay written by Fernando Navarro. The movie stars Ana Torrent, Leticia Dolera and Sonia Almarcha. 

In 2023, a prequel, Sister Death, was released.

Madrid, 1991: During a total eclipse of the sun, Catholic schoolgirl Veronica and two friends decide to make an Ouija board to invoke her father’s spirit. After the glass shatters, Veronica enters a kind of trance and passes out, frightening her friends.

Having recovered, she starts to perceive strange things at home that make her think she’s brought her father back to the world of the living…

On 28 May 2018, British newspapers such as The Sun and the London-based Metro reported that “This Netflix horror film inspired by a true story is so scary people are turning it off halfway through”, citing various Twitter tweets as evidence.

“Paco Plaza has a reputation to maintain. [REC] 3: Genesis, which he helmed solo, was essentially comedy-slasher fare, making Veronica his first feature-length excursion into more psychological, Conjuring-style horror — and, aided by some great child performances, plenty of stylistic chutzpah and a strong sense of place, he makes it work, despite the project’s overall lack of finesse.” The Hollywood Reporter

” …a rather effective ghost movie that might not exactly re-invent the genre but that’s based on a well-written enough story to build up tension, that understands to use all cinematic means at hand (including an impressive soundscape) to create a creepy atmosphere, and that features plenty of scares that are sure to freak you out.” Search My Trash

“Escacena is completely believable as a teenager who is only partially aware of what she is becoming, and more than a little reluctant to endure even more than she already does. And what the story lacks in a cohesive tone, it makes up for in excellent production design (making us aware that it’s 1991 without it being too nostalgic), and a haunting score.” Screen Anarchy

“As a subgenre, it’s hard to find a possession/exorcism film that stands out. Veronica, by famed Spanish director Paco Plaza (one-half of the original REC team), doesn’t earn its stripes as a dramatic reinvention of familiar genre tropes, but the film is a solid effort with some pretty effective chills.” Bloody Disgusting

“The special effects are good throughout. The film makes the most of the lighting, and sound design is also effective. Performances from the young cast are great. Sandra Escacena is believable, whilst the younger children act well both as natural siblings and in the film’s scarier scenes. They are aided by a decent script. Verónica is an amply entertaining picture, but one that lacks an original slant.” I Heart the Talkies

“There are a fair number of frightening visuals and jump-scares, as well as a few narrative twists (that sharp viewers may or may not see coming) and the closing reel packs a genuine emotional punch. There’s no denying that Plaza and co-writer Fernando Navarro know their way around the genre, and deliver the goods even if they aren’t anything revolutionary.” Horror 101 with Doctor AC

Verónica follows an established arc, but Plaza and co-screenwriter Fernando Navarro come up with some creepy original details that deepen and intensify the atmosphere of mounting anxiety. Supernatural horror is always scarier in Spanish horror films, because the Devil remains a very real presence there…” J.B. Spins

“Alas, you keep waiting for him [Paco Plaza] to do fire up the material or overturn the cliches as he plods through barely interesting scares like Sandra Escacena cutting her finger or her hand trembling as she tries to put food in her mouth. […] There are a few scenes with shadowy figures appearing throughout but nothing that causes the tension level to rise any.” Moria

“Newcomer Escacena’s strong turn as the tortured protagonist surely plays a key role in the movie’s success, while the low-key (yet rather thrilling) climactic stretch ensures that Verónica ends on a decidedly (and exceedingly) positive note – with the film ultimately a cut above many of the similarly-themed horror flicks pouring out of Hollywood as of late.” Reel Film Reviews

“An effective and often-used horror trope is childhood isolation – that sense that the monsters are real and there’s no one there who can protect you. Verónica thrives on this. Fans of [REC] will notice that Plaza’s Verónica shows a stylistic maturity. The camera movement is sometimes subtle, but at the climax of the film it tracks the action so deliberately that you feel like you’re part of it.”

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