Verónica (2017) Review

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Students viewing the eclipse in Madrid from Verónica (2017).

Ouija boards. There oughtta be a law, I’m tellin’ ya. Countless movies have shown us the consequences of playing with those cardboard links to The Great Beyond. And yet? If we’re not goofing around with a plaster hand, we’ve got our finger on a planchette trying to chat with dead ol’ Aunt Betsy. The trouble is, it’s never our favorite aunt who answers the call, is it?

Enter: Verónica [Sandra Escacena in her debut role] and two of her friends. In 1991, on the day of a solar eclipse in Madrid, Spain, the trio skip the celestial viewing for a surreptitious Ouija board session in their Catholic school basement. Young Verónica, supplier of the Ouija board and occult magazines detailing “How To Ouija”, is hoping to contact her recently departed father. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the catastrophic.

A couple fresh bandaids later and being ghosted by her best friend, Rosa [Ángela Fabián; TV’s El Príncipe (2014-2016)], Verónica begins to spiral under the increasing pressures of her life and this is where the screenplay really shines. While the oldest of 4 children, Verónica is still a child in her own right. After the demise of her father, her mother has had to take over the family business and is now sole proprietor of the local bar. Meaning Verónica is basically on her own when it comes to raising her brother and sisters. With the combined weight of her home life, puberty, and school drama she’s teetering on the edge of what she can endure. The masterful slow-burn from Paco Plaza & Fernando Navarro’s script lets the viewer feel every bit of this increasing unbalance in Verónica’s life.

Sandra Escacena in Verónica (2017).
Sandra Escacena

Sandra Escacena was born to play the role of Verónica. Age appropriate and capable of nuance beyond her years, she drives home the oppressive circumstances of her character’s existence. Supporting actor, Bruna González [in her feature debut as Verónica’s little sister, Lucía], compounds that effect as the wry little sister who depends on her older sister’s protection and support.

As we all know, every movie in this sub-genre needs its All Knowing Character. In Verónica, that role is satisfied by Sister Narcisa. Also known by the students as Sister Death [Consuelo Trujillo], Sister Nacisa is a blind nun with extrasensory perceptive abilities. She alone guides Verónica to the best of her ability.

Consuelo Trujillo in Verónica (2017).
Consuelo Trujillo

Special effects are minimal in Verónica, but expertly applied. What doesn’t fit into applying bandaids or scant special makeup effects is accomplished admirably with judicious use of CGI. A refreshing and minimalistic decision that only serves to increase the intimacy of the story line.

Fans of Paco Plaza‘s work or movies with a similar theme (for example, The Conjuring) will love the Spaniard’s take on the well-trodden trope of Ouijas Gone Wrong.

Verónica is currently available via Netflix and wherever else movies get streamed these days.

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