By now you’d think that horror films would have dwindled out of existence, as they all seem to be replicas, or even remakes of old classics. However, in recent years there has been a surprising revival of the genre, with the success of horror trilogies such as Insidious and The Conjuring, films that deliver on quality of plot and visual effects, and don’t make us feel like it’s what we’ve all seen before.
Yet there are still many horrors that follow the classic pattern, usually being driven by a demonic presence possessing a certain character, which ultimately leads to havoc, then an attempted exorcism, then death. Veronica follows many of these stereotypical plot junctures, with the content in between proving dull and serving as a filler to lead up to the underwhelming jump-scares.
This film really brings nothing new to the horror genre, which I was disappointed by, as it has been dubbed the ‘scariest’ horror film ever made. After reading this comment I was expecting an eeriness that you can really only achieve with a low-budget, ‘true story’ horror film like Veronica, a raw aspect that makes it feel more real and chilling. Instead, it fell flat. Despite being based on true events; the story line didn’t leave as much of an impact as I’d hoped.
The horror begins with a very haphazard Ouija Board scene in a school basement, in which Veronica is trying to communicate with her dead father. It quickly escalates with no real attempt at creating suspense, and Veronica consequently becomes possessed. Instead of the film being visually scary, it turns into more of a creepy drama or psychological thriller, where Veronica is shown to be acting out and behaving strangely for the remainder of the film, being forced by the demon inside her to harm her younger siblings that she is looking after.
“There are a few shocking and gruesome occurrences”
These scenes were interspersed with underwhelming and simplistic paranormal activity, like bags falling off of wardrobes and televisions turning on by themselves. There are a few shocking and gruesome occurrences, yet these had more of an effect of cringe and disgust. I was personally still left wondering when the real action was about to take place, and little did I know that I would be waiting until the last 20 minutes of the film.
However, this is where the story does become interesting, as Veronica, along with the viewer, finally discovers what she whispered to her friend after she became possessed in the first Ouija board scene. This information leads to Veronica’s desperate attempt to extract the demon once and for all, by performing another séance with the Ouija board.
Before the séance comes an emotional scene where she talks to her mother about what they will do tomorrow, not knowing if she will be alive by then. This portion of the film does effectively evoke some much needed tension and sympathy for the protagonist through Veronica’s hopelessness in having to do this on her own as no one will listen to her.
“The actual figure of the demon is barely frightening”
This gives the film substance and something for the audience to finally react to. Yet, this build up is then undermined by the scene of the final séance. At the point where the film is meant to unleash its best scare tactics, it was still relying on the viewer’s terror of anticipating what is to come, through the scene getting louder and faster and more intense, to finally reveal the actual figure of the demon, which is barely frightening and looks more like a burn victim.
This whole film seems to leave you waiting for a climactic scare that never arrives, and pretty much no worries about whether you’re going to be able to sleep that night.
Overall, the personal story of Veronica and her family adds emotion to the story, yet doesn’t save it from the its bland execution that does nothing new with the Ouija board concept. It can’t compete with recent horror franchises, that still follow a somewhat predictable formula, but seem to do more with the story and really know how to scare their audiences.
Image and media courtesy of Apaches Entertainment and Expediente La Pelicula A.I.E