So, we pulled up the Netflix, cuddled on the couch and watched this film:
"We watched the wrong movie."
"We watched the wrong movie."
"What do you mean?"
"There are two movies with the title Veronica on Netflix."
"Ohhhhhh. Well, that makes things make so much more sense."
So, the Mexican horror movie Veronica had beautiful and lush cinematography, shot in gorgeous black and white. It was a psychological thriller with a serious side order of mind-fuckery. It had the sort of twist that honestly, I am usually pretty good at spotting, but I just had no clue where this one was going, and was thoroughly along for the ride. (There were one or two things that rubbed up against my suspension of dis belief pretty hard, but made perfect sense and worked perfectly well within the entire plot arc.) The slow burn, claustrophobic tension was amazing, and the actresses gave performances that while intense, did not veer into the melodramatic, which could have easily happened with the material.
As with the best horror, this movie also works on more than one level. There is the standard "spooky" horror of ghosts/demons/possessions, but there is also the horror of the oldest daughter being forced to take on far too much responsibility and grow up far faster than she should have to in a family where the father has died. In fact for the first sequence in the movie I was left wondering if she is just a very young mother until the relationships were clarified. (I also appreciate that, despite the initial direction I thought they were going to go with the characterization of the mother, she was shown to be a loving mother just doing the best she could in a bad situation. Exhausted and frazzled yes, but still deeply caring.)
The world-building was fascinating and kept me interested, and most importantly the characters were great. (Nothing will get me to turn off a movie faster than if I dislike almost all the characters within the first ten minutes.) "Sister Death," the blind* nun, is a fucking delight. She embodies the typical "doomsayer" role with a intriguing mix of world weary cynicism, sharpness, and concern. I ended up caring deeply about all four of the siblings, and the script hit just the right notes of affection and antagonism between them. (The actors who played the younger siblings were hilarious and adorable without being annoyingly precocious.) I have speculated that part of the reason why people may have ended up turning this movie off before the end was because they were worried about the fates of the kids. (Go below the Ko-Fi button and highlight the text by the asterisk if you simply must know before watching until the end.)
There was also just the right amount of humor (largely from the younger siblings) to set off the more intense sequences. Was I scared? Definitely creeped out, more creeped out by some lovely subtle touches than the full on horror sequences. (The bit with the glass rolling on the kitchen floor? *shivers*) There was one beautifully set up jump scare that got me. (I enjoy jump scares when they are done well, and not over used.)
The only thing I really disliked (a thing I dislike greatly about many of these types of movies) was the "This was based on a True Story!" hype. I know that sort of thing is supposed to make these types of movies Even. Scarier! in some way, but for me, honestly, it just ends up making it harder to suspend my disbelief. I'm pretty skeptical about the supernatural, despite my love for stories about it.
*I feel compelled to add that the representation of disability in horror is often problematic and I'm sure this is no exception, but I did really love the character. There was also a bit of a subtle push back against the idea that an old, frail, and disabled woman could not also be mentally sharp. (Google "disability in horror" and read some disabled voices on this subject, they can talk about it far more knowledgeably than I)
If you liked this post and my other work on this blog and have a few bucks to spare,
***All the kids except Veronica survive to the end of the movie.