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Veronica (2017) Film Review

This Spanish film, directed by Paco Plaza is loosely based on the true story of Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro, who died mysteriously after the teen used a Oujia board. In the film version of that story, 15-year-old Veronica (played by Sandra Escacena) has been tasked with taking care of her three siblings while her mother works. Since their father has recently died, not only is the family still in grief, but their financial struggles are made well apparent.

During a solar eclipse, Veronica's teacher tells her class that, during ancient times the eclipse would have been an ideal window for summoning evil spirits and engaging in human sacrifices (It's a Catholic school). Surprising no one, Veronica and her friends use a Ouijia board to try to reach her father. It's a tender moment, but one that does not come without consequences.

Soon the family starts to experience strange, paranormal occurrences. Normally, with paranormal ghost films the creep factor is simply seeing things that aren't there or objects being moved when no one is watching. In Veronica these are all replaced by demonic entities, which are sometimes manifested through black figures, physical assault the kids. For example, early on Veronica is unable to eat because an invisible hand is choking her. It's really unsettling.

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Seeking help, Veronica visits the school's elderly, blind nun, whom the students call "Sister Death." The sister tells Veronica that she has opened a portal in which a dark spirit has attached to her. It's a spirit that even the seasoned nun can't rid of and the problems continue to escalate. The fear is made that much more apparent because, as mentioned, the mother of the family constantly works, and thus, Veronica is often left to protect her and her siblings alone.

This culminates in a last-ditch effort to control the monster by holding a séance and since at this point she has no one to help her, she does so with the very siblings she is trying to protect. While I will not give away the ending, it's a dire and deadly warning to those who decide to open a doorway to the other side.

The scariest part of the movie, to me, was the fact that these children had to deal with the evil entities themselves, without some kind of outside help. There was the nun, of course, but for the majority of the film they were alone in their apartment while their mother worked.

As a former latchkey myself, this was so unsettling because I could easily identify with the fear and helplessness that the kids felt. With the addition of ghosts, it's an oppressive fear. This is made more so by the fact that all of the young actors are extremely believable, ramping up the stress and uncertainty with their acting chops. However, while there are a few moments of originality, make no mistake - this is your typical haunted house affair. I would definitely say it's above average in terms of supernatural horror, but it still relies on classic tropes and jump scares. It's a film that is interesting while in the moment, but much of it would not be readily memorable later on. In spite of that, if you are looking for a good romp and accept that this isn't bringing anything new to the table, it's certainly worth a look.