Movie Review | Veronica
Movie Summary: Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates. (IMDb)
I have to admit right at the start that paranormal horror films never really quite work for me. I think that I'm just too used to franchises where the paranormal is simply another antagonist and therefore holds less dread for me and will never feel truly horrific.
The thing is, I think that even if I did like paranormal horror films more, that Veronica still probably wouldn't have worked - at least not as a horror film. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this isn't really a horror film, it's much more a tragedy than anything else.
And that's not disparaging the quality of the film! Tragedy as a genre in fiction can be defined as 'dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character', which is certainly the case here.
It helps that this film is (very loosely) based on a real life case in which the police investigating the events swore that paranormal activity did take place, including photographs from the actual crime scene right at the film's end.
They way it helps is that the film feels very grounded, with Veronica apparently the only one to experience out of the ordinary, yet there are clearly things that must have involved the paranormal as they defy any other explanation.
And I want to praise Sandra Escacena as Veronica, who feels so genuinely real that I honestly felt incredible sadness for her by the time the credits began. Then again, she was playing a character her own age so there's an inherent level of authenticity that couldn't be achieved by an older, more experienced performer.
Despite how fantastic I think Escacena is, I don't think the rest of the movie matches her efforts, although I think this is due to being based on real events and being restricted by trying to depict the paranormal in a world where it doesn't really exist (as far as I believe anyway).
The fact that the film focuses on Veronica's younger siblings as the main supporting cast doesn't help, as they never feel like they've been placed in genuine jeopardy. This is why the film never lives up to the horror label for me, as that lack of dread for such a large share of the central cast erases a lot of the tension.
Just to reiterate: if you watch Veronica expecting a scary paranormal horror movie, then prepare to be disappointed. This is a movie about a teenage girl having her life destroyed piece by piece by a sinister force, all the way up to sad, tragic ending.
Veronica didn't work at all for me as a horror film, but the excellent performance from young Sandra Escacena as the title character certainly made it more affecting as a tragedy. If you're easily scared, you might still enjoy the horror aspects, but I was left feeling sad for Veronica by the end, rather than scared by anything I had seen.