Veronica film review: The most horrific film on Netflix?


Netflix has had its fair share of terrifying film and television show additions in its library, but this new one has apparently caused viewers to shut the film off after about only 25 minutes. Both a supernatural horror-thriller and apparently a real-life story, Veronica has established itself as a popular addition to Netflix’s catalog.

We all have our own set of fears, whether they be the darkness, spirits or the thought of masked killers breaking into your house at night with the sole intention of murdering you. Part of the reason why a film like The Strangers (and to an extent, it’s sequel as well) scares so many people is because, despite the ridiculous atmosphere, it still preys on the fear of a break-in, which can be quite common and not completely out of the ordinary.

There’s also the added factor of the film supposedly being based on a true story. If it, or something similar, happened in real life, who’s to say that it can’t happen to us? That’s primarily what director Paco Plaza tries to instill in the audience with his newest horror film, Veronica.

The Spanish film director is perhaps best known as one of the creators of the 2007 found footage horror film, REC, for which is best known as the film adapted into an American remake, Quarantine, one year later. REC, much like Veronica, uses and exploits the fear of the unknown and somewhat realistic to its full advantage, creating a realistic, yet terrifying horror film in the process. Paco Plaza attempts to do the same here, albeit with a cinematic style over found footage, for Veronica. The story’s alleged authenticity, as well as its focus on the supernatural, have caused critics and viewers to dub this as one of the scariest films ever made. But just how scary is Veronica?

The case

Veronica doesn’t waste any time, beginning with a frantic emergency phone call to the police, reporting a break-in of sorts, as we hear the choppy and all-too-realistic audio from said phone call. The call is emerging from the household of Veronica (Sandra Escacena), a 15-year old girl living in 1991 Madrid, Spain. Veronica juggles going to school while caring for her three younger siblings, due to her father’s death and her mother (Ana Torrent) working long hours overnight.

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The story takes place in the weeks leading up to the phone call, beginning with Veronica holding a seance with a Ouija board, in the hopes of contacting her deceased father. What she instead receives is a haunting that she will never forget.

The plotline of Veronica certainly has its moments of familiarity. From the supernatural plot kickstarted by a fateful seance to familiar tropes of the supernatural horror genre, the film doesn’t try to break new ground with either its story or execution. It’s simple to say that it’s just another supernatural horror and, in many ways, it definitely is.

However, the film takes a (mostly) grounded approach with its characters and story, unfolding as a slow and uneasy build for its established and fleshed out characters. Portions of the film are focused on Veronica enduring the stress of being a motherly figure to her siblings, playing out like a grounded family drama that happens to have some supernatural elements thrown in there. While the third act fully embraces its supernatural atmosphere, Veronica‘s refreshing story and showcasing of a likable, but struggling family roots this supernatural horror-thriller back down to Earth, organically scaring audiences in the process.

The victims

What helps Veronica stand out among the field of corny supernatural horror films is its game and talented cast at the forefront of it all. Leading the fray is the young, but incredibly talented Sandra Escacena, who portrays the troubled title character. A secondary mother of sorts, Sandra portrays Veronica as the all-too-familiar responsible oldest sibling, stressed with looking after the young ones while dealing with her own emotions. Her character does reek of a missed opportunity at an interesting character study, which falls to the wayside for the supernatural element to take precedence. However, Veronica is nonetheless a watchable and formidable lead for this film, providing some heart (as well as that terrifying poster image) for audiences to soak up.

Also uncommon for the horror film are well-acted child performances as well, brought to the table by the three younger siblings of the family. Child actors are a tricky thing to maneuver in reviews like these. If they’re great, then no issues. However, if the performances aren’t up to snuff, it feels bitter to criticize a child actor’s performance, especially if they haven’t had much experience. Fortunately, Veronica is a case where the child actors bring watchability and personality to their otherwise thin characters. They’re fun, likable, full of energy and completely believable in their roles. They’re not absolutely amazing, but for this film, they more than meet expectations.

For the most part, the cast is comprised of young unknowns and upstarts, but Veronica has the pleasure of including an experienced actress in Ana Torrent, who is best known for her role in the 1976 drama, Cria Cuervos. Having acted for over 40 years, Torrent brings so much life to her mother character, who in the spirit of her character, is not seen for a good part of the film. The few times she is, Torrent is able to bring a stressed and depressed atmosphere to her character, invoking sympathy just from a few shots of her sleeping and slaving away at her night job. Her interactions with her daughter are among the highlights of the film, gripping the audience with her rapid-fire delivery of her worries and concerns about her daughter’s strange behavior. She may not be in the film much, but she is one of, if not the definitive standout of Veronica.

The crime scene

Veronica is dubbed one of the scariest films ever by multiple critics and audience members and in some aspects, it’s not hard to see why this film would scare so many people. Evil spirits lurking around at home is not a comforting thought and Paco Plaza uses that to his advantage with some of the scares in the film. The familiar jump scare music boost is present, but it mostly brushed aside in favor of background scares, casually revealing something unnerving in the background for the viewer to take notice of.

One particular sequence in the apartment early on in the film makes full use of this, following Veronica as she’s oblivious to some very startling images in the background. These sequences in the apartment ooze atmosphere and tension, bringing about a sense of dread that slowly washes over the audience in due time.

That being said, the scares, unfortunately, peak in those sequences, as the majority of Veronica stumbles along with its snail-like pace and flat and underwritten characters. The story itself is engaging enough to pay attention to, alongside the actors bringing life to their roles, but the actual characters lack a sense of cinematic urgency or importance.

The family’s backstory is touched upon, but never fully fleshed out, making for a dull affair whenever the spirits aren’t at play. The film provides small hints of style, courtesy of Paco Plaza’s direction, but beyond that, Veronica lacks personality and meaning, existing solely to scare audiences. It may do its job there for some people, but it’ll also sacrifice some much-needed energy and tension to try and develop a family of underwritten characters, making the scares feel distanced from each other and turning into a plodding filler story in the end. Showcase the characters in peril, even if the characters aren’t as well-written. If the purpose of the film is to scare people, then fully commit to that goal, rather than making audiences sit through a meandering family drama in place of the horror.


In short, we finally come to the answer of that much-asked question: is Veronica truly the scariest film ever made? The answer is…not really.

Will this film scare some people? Absolutely. The film has ALREADY scared a legion of innocent Netflix members simply looking for a film to watch. Because of this, the film has garnered a reputation for being completely terrifying.

In actuality, the film has scary MOMENTS, not necessarily a scary feature-length film. The film has enough to stand on its own, thanks to the direction, performances and the creative nature of some of the scares. Veronica falls hard due to its engaging but ultimately slow and mostly lifeless story, and the lack of a truly horrific atmosphere. The people who were scared by Veronica and turned it off more than likely didn’t experience the rest of the otherwise dull affair, which may have helped subside their feelings of fear.

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Veronica is in a unique situation at the moment, due to its reputation as the scariest film ever made. Although it doesn’t have enough to truly justify its title, it’s something that the filmmakers should run with while the baton is in hand. The film has mostly positive reviews from critics, which help the film thrive as something of an underrated horror gem and, in my opinion, it has the makings of a future cult classic.

The film can use its unofficial title to help itself receive longer shelf and queue time in the process. It may not be a film I think is particularly good, but it’s one that I deeply respect, thanks to its old-school scare tactics and willingness to run with its reputation. I’d say it’s good for a late night watch, but don’t expect the film to keep you up at night afterward. Unless your name is Veronica.

Final Verdict: 6/10

Veronica is available to stream now on Netflix!