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article imageReview: TIFF 2017: ‘Veronica’ is a typical possession movie with a twist Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 19, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Veronica’ begins with a naïve attempt to contact a deceased loved one and ends with a potentially confirmed report of possession.
There are a few things that guarantee trouble, particularly in a horror movie; they include investigating an unexplained noise, reading from mysterious books aloud, and playing with Ouija boards. When anyone does one of these things in a genre picture, the chances of them ending up dead or haunted are pretty good. But clearly no one in these films have ever seen a horror movie, or they’d surely no better. In Veronica, a teenage girl makes a standard mistake that puts her entire family at risk.
Since her father’s death, 15-year-old Verónica (Sandra Escacena) has been her family’s caregiver while her mother is the sole provider, working long hours at the local tavern. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a teenager, but her three younger siblings are never wanting. Verónica, on the other hand, desperately misses her father and on the day of a lunar eclipse she and two friends try to contact him using an Ouija board. Instead they open the door for a malevolent spirit that attaches itself to Verónica and threatens the safety of her entire family. If she doesn’t figure out how to send it back, they may all pay for her mistake.
The film is based on the only documented account of a Spanish police officer recording a supernatural occurrence in their official report. However, everything leading up to his arrival on the horrific scene is fiction; it’s likely for this same reason that the movie suggests Verónica may also have been suffering a nervous breakdown due to the pressures at home and school. Nonetheless, the evil that appears to haunt the teen finds numerous ways to torment her — particularly at home where it targets her more vulnerable siblings. But just in case there was some confusion of what may be occurring, a blind old nun tells her what’s happened and what she must do to end it.
Paco Plaza, the co-creator of the [REC] series, is no stranger to bloody horror movies (that run a little too long), but this narrative required a slightly subtler approach. Nonetheless, there are more tangible monsters in this picture than is typically seen in possession or other similar stories. Increasingly desperate to right her wrong, Verónica enlists the help of the only ones who won’t refuse her — the same children she’s trying to protect. The actors in the picture are quite young, but outside of a few scenes in which the youngest is placed in the background, they all make remarkable contributions to the movie.
Veronica had its international premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema category at the Toronto International Film Festival. Don’t miss the rest of our TIFF 2017 coverage.
Director: Paco Plaza
Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González and Claudia Placer
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