Verónica (2017 Spanish film)
Veronica (Spanish: Verónica) is a 2017 Spanish supernatural horror film directed by Paco Plaza. It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It is loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board.
|Directed by||Paco Plaza|
|Screenplay by||Fernando Navarro |
|Produced by||Enrique López Lavigne|
|Edited by||Marti Roca|
|Music by||Chucky Namanera|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing International|
|Box office||$6.3 million|
The film opens in 1991 in medias res, with emergency services responding to a call from a young girl. She sounds panicked and screams about her brother Antoñito, and something "coming to get him", before the call cuts off.
The film then goes back in time three days. Verónica is a 15-year-old girl living with her mother and three siblings in an apartment in the working-class district of Vallecas, Madrid. Their father died recently and their mother works long hours at a bar to support the family, leaving Verónica in charge of her younger siblings: twins Lucia and Irene, and Antoñito. On the day of the solar eclipse, her teacher explains how some ancient cultures used eclipses to stage human sacrifices and summon dark spirits.
While the school gathers on the roof to view the eclipse, Verónica, her friend Rosa, and their classmate Diana go into the basement to conduct a séance using a Ouija board. Verónica wants to reach out to her late father, and Diana wants to reach out to her late boyfriend, who died in a motorcycle accident. The board responds right away but Rosa and Diana pull their hands back when the glass cup becomes too hot to touch. Verónica's hand remains on it, and at the moment of the eclipse, the cup shatters, cutting her finger and dripping blood onto the board. Verónica becomes unresponsive, whispering something repeatedly that Rosa leans in to hear, and suddenly lets out a demonic scream. After passing out, Verónica wakes in the school nurse's office, who tells her she probably passed out from iron deficiency.
Verónica begins experiencing paranormal occurrences. She is unable to eat her dinner, as if an invisible hand is preventing her. Claw and bite marks appear on her body and she hears strange noises. Her friends begin avoiding her. Looking for answers, she goes back to the school basement and finds the school's elderly blind nun whom the students call "Sister Death." The nun scolds her for doing something so dangerous and explains that the séance attached a dark spirit to her; she needs to protect her siblings. The nun tries to compel the spirit to leave her, but nothing happens.
Verónica draws protective Viking symbols for the kids, only for the demon to destroy them. She tries to help Lucia when the spirit chokes her, but Lucia says it was Verónica who was choking her. That night, Verónica dreams that her siblings are eating her. She wakes up to find that she's on her first period. As she scrubs her mattress, she finds burn marks on the underside. Later, she finds on each of the kids' mattresses a large burn mark in the shape of a human body. Verónica goes to Sister Death for advice; the nun tells of how she used to see dark spirits when she was younger, and intentionally blinded herself in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the visions. Sister Death tells her that she can force the spirits to leave by doing right what she did wrong. Verónica learns that it is important to say goodbye to the spirit at the end of the séance. After going to a party at Rosa's house, she asks Rosa and Diana to help her hold another séance, but they refuse. Rosa reveals that, at the séance, Verónica whispered that she herself would die in three days.
Desperate, she decides to hold the séance with her young siblings. She has Antoñito draw the protective symbols on the walls, but he flips to the wrong page and instead draws symbols of invocation. When she tells the spirit to say goodbye, it refuses. She calls the police as the spirit snatches Antoñito, manages to grab him back, and escapes along with Lucia and Irene. However, when she gets to the exit she sees in a mirror that she is not actually holding Antoñito but just imagined it. She returns to find her brother hiding in a closet and calling her name. She finds him and notices he won't go with her. Verónica looks at herself in the mirror and sees the demon, realizing she has been possessed by the demon the entire time, and had been harming her siblings under its control. She attempts to end the possession by slitting her own throat but is prevented by the demon. The police enter to find her being attacked by an invisible force and passing out. The medics carry her and Antoñito out while a shaken detective observes the scene. As the detective watches a framed photograph of Verónica suddenly catch fire, he is informed that she has died. Five years later in 1996, he reports of unexplained paranormal activity having occurred in Madrid. It is explained that the movie is based on the true events of the first police report in Spain where a police officer certifies having witnessed paranormal activity.
The film was inspired when Estefania Guttierez Lazaro (1973 – 1991) reportedly suffered hallucinations and seizures after performing the séance at a school in Madrid to try to contact her friend's deceased boyfriend who had died six months earlier. Her exact cause of death is a mystery. Her house allegedly became haunted after her death according to the British music magazine NME. The American magazine Newsweek, referenced by NME, is more cautious and while acknowledging that the case is real, likens the event to the similar pop-culture phenomenon and urban legend The Amityville Horror. In the same magazine, director Paco Plaza says that he didn't feel bound to portray the real events, clarifying "...the whole story of Veronica and the sisters and Antoñito, this little Marlon Brando with glasses, it’s all a vision."
Verónica originally released on 25 August 2017 in Spain. In addition, the film was released in eight other countries between the months of December 2017 up until February 2018.
In Spain the film grossed $4,212,203, and $1,910,886 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $6,123,089.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a 90% approval rating from critics. The website's critical consensus reads, "A scarily effective horror outing, Veronica proves it doesn't take fancy or exotic ingredients to craft skin-crawling genre thrills."
Jonathan Holland from The Hollywood Reporter gives a negative review of the film and wrote "The real horror in Veronica is not in the CGI visuals, or in Pablo Rosso's frantic cinematography, or in the aural bombardment of sound effects and music; it’s in the relationship between the children". Overall though he sums up his film review with "Thick on chills, thin on psychology."
Shortly after the release of Verónica on Netflix Jordan Crucchoila of Vulture countered other reviewers who believe that Verónica is the scariest movie on Netflix "In our estimation, Veronica is not that scary. It’s a worthy effort, but as far as witch-board movies go, you’ll get more out of Ouija 2: Origin of Evil.", but overall still believes that the film has "some great set-piece scares, and the movie’s most disturbing moment is pretty damn good." Ed Potton of The Times does not believe that the film is good and gave the film a 2 out of 5, and wrote "A considerable buzz online suggested that this Spanish horror might arrest the recent run of iffy Netflix movies. Sadly, it doesn't." Dennis Harvey of Variety, wrote that the film's ideas "aren’t ultimately original enough or its scares potent enough to suggest Plaza wouldn’t benefit from trying his directorial hand at someone else’s screenplay." Paul Tassi from Forbes magazine wrote "If I was scoring the movie myself I’d probably give it a 6 out of 10, “fresh,” but not exactly stunning."
|2018||Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain (Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos)||Best Editing (Mejor Montaje)||Martí Roca||Won|||
|Best New Actress (Mejor Actriz Revelación)||Sandra Escacena||Won|
|Best Original Screenplay (Mejor Guión Original)||Paco Plaza, Fernando Navarro||Nominated|
|Best Score (Mejor Música)||Eugenio Mira||Nominated|
|Feroz Awards, ES||Best Director||Paco Plaza||Nominated|||
|Best Film: Drama||Paco Plaza||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Eugenio Mira||Nominated|
|Best Trailer||Rafa Martínez||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Leading Role||Sandra Escacena||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Paco Plaza, Fernando Navarro||Nominated|
|Goya Awards||Best Sound (Mejor Sonido)||Aitor Berenguer, Gabriel Gutiérrez, Nicolas de Poulpiquet||Won|||
|Best Film (Mejor Película)||Expediente La Película A.I.E., Apaches Entertainment||Nominated|
|Best New Actress (Mejor Actriz Revelación)||Sandra Escacena||Nominated|
|Best Director (Mejor Director)||Paco Plaza||Nominated|
|Best Original Screenplay (Mejor Guión Original)||Paco Plaza, Fernando Navarro||Nominated|
|Best Original Score (Mejor Música Original)||Eugenio Mira||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects (Mejores Efectos Especiales)||Raúl Romanillos, David Heras||Nominated|
|Spanish Actors Union||Newcomer: Female (Categoría Femenina)||Sandra Escacena||Nominated|||
|The Platino Awards for Iberoamerican Cinema||Best Sound||Aitor Berenguer, Gabriel Gutiérrez, Nicolas de Poulpiquet||Nominated|||
|Turia Awards||Special Award||Paco Plaza||Won|||
|Best New Actress||Sandra Escacena||Won|
|2019||CinEuphoria Awards||Best Sound/Sound Effects - International Competition||Nominated|||
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Streaming Premiere Film||Paco Plaza||Nominated|||
- Holland, Jonathan (28 August 2017). "'Veronica': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- "Verónica". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
- Lang, Brett (15 August 2017). "Toronto Adds Films From Aaron Sorkin, Louis C.K., Brie Larson". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Whalen, Andrew (2 March 2018). "Investigating the true story behind Veronica, the new Netflix horror movie about summoning a demon during an eclipse". Newsweek. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
- Braidwood, Ella (2 March 2018). "Veronica: is it the scariest horror film ever?". NME. Time UK. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- ""Is Veronica, the New Netflix Horror Movie, a True Story?"". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
- "Verónica". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Verónica (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "'Veronica': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- Crucchiola, Jordan (8 March 2018). "This Is the Scariest Part of Netflix's Veronica". Vulture. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- Potton, Ed. "Film review: Veronica". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- Harvey, Dennis (4 March 2018). "Film Review: 'Veronica'". Variety. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- Tassi, Paul. "Netflix's 'Veronica' Is A Bizarre But Ultimately Bland Take On Demonic Horror". Forbes. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Feroz Awards, ES (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Goya Awards (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Spanish Actors Union (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "The Platino Awards for Iberoamerican Cinema (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Turia Awards (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "CinEuphoria Awards (2019)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Fangoria Chainsaw Awards (2019)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2020.