‘Beware the recommendations of others on Facebook.’
That’s the lesson I’ve learned after watching Netflix’s Veronica.
I saw a post about this film on a friend’s Facebook feed and, as he normally has good taste in films, I thought it was worth a shot.
I’ll be having words with said ‘friend’.
While it is not a bad film by any measure, Veronica doesn’t do anything new. It just puts some decent effects onto your typical standard ‘conjure-the-occult’ horror trope.
Directed by Paco Plaza, who also directed [REC], you would be forgiven for thinking Veronica is going to be another gem of the found footage genre.
Instead, we get a bland story about three girls who perform a seance, things go wrong, and spooky shenanigans ensue.
Lone Girl and Cubs
The titular Veronica is a high school girl who acts as mother to her three younger siblings while her mother works long hours in a local bar.
Lead actress Sandra Escacena is very good, I must say, and really brings to like the character of an isolated young girl forced to grown up way before her time.
We learn that Veronica’s father has passed away and so she is inspired to conduct a seance with two friends during a solar eclipse to try and talk to her dad.
(I’ll just stop for a moment here and mention that the two ‘friends’ are awful and anyone who had a rough time in high school will be nodding their head sadly by the end of this film.)
After the seance goes predictably wrong, Veronica is haunted by ‘something’ in her home and becomes increasingly frantic as she tries to ‘put right what went wrong’.
The story follows a very predictable narrative from this point on, with shadows in the mirror, bumps in the night and freaky dream sequences, but nothing that really stands out as either frightening or unique.
Like I said, this isn’t a bad film, and I bet a lot of casual horror fans will enjoy it. But for someone who has watched a lot of horror films, this will feel like it just doesn’t offer enough.
It even has the old horror favourite of a creepy blind nun whose purpose seems to only be offer a bit of exposition while chain smoking in the dark. My partner even mused if she was the same creepy bling nun from the conjuring, and if so, good on her for getting more work.
There is a sort-of side plot regarding Veronica ‘becoming a woman’, as there is mention of her being late getting her period (FYI, 15 years old is not late) and her friends becoming more interested in boys and parties, than hanging out summoning ghosts. Pfft, whatever girls!
However, this plot never really gets off the ground and it ends up being dropped about two-thirds into the film.
Never Trust a Ouija Board
There’s a lot of loose ends and gaps in the story-telling in Veronica which seem to go past acceptable oversights and move into amateur mistakes.
For example, it’s never explained why Veronica’s seance goes wrong in the first place. Apparently, she misses off a huge chunk of the ending process which unleashes the evil entity in the first place.
But later in the film we see that she is an avid collector of the occult books that detail the ritual, so you would think she would have read the entire article first before beginning the seance. We’re never told why she suddenly decides to go at it half-cock.
Little errors like this start to chip away at the foundations of a story like this, which is built on the premise that you must believe that you are seeing. Hard to believe when there are glaring mistakes staring you in the face.
All in all, Veronica isn’t a bad film; it just doesn’t do anything special. Some of the effects are decent, like Veronica’s extended mouth during her seance scream, but aside from that, everything else is pretty standard.
This would be enjoyable watching if you’ve got friends round and you fancy a casual scare while not paying too much attention to the plot. But for die-hard horror fans, you won’t find anything new here.