You might think a movie about Ouija boards, demon possession, nuns, and the inability of God to do anything about it would seem pretty much overdone by now. The body snatching demon flick has saturated the market and it’s hard to believe that any new film could add to the colorful tapestry of that genre. Well, you’d be surprised.
Directed by Paco Plaza, Veronica (2017) stars Sandra Escacena as young woman who feels trapped in her hopeless life of taking care of her three siblings after the death of her father. Her mother works endlessly to make enough money to survive so the household responsibilities fall squarely on Veronica‘s shoulders. In an act of desperation she tries to contact her father via Ouija board, and, well you can pretty much guess the rest. In fact my wife and I did guess the rest, and even though the movie was somewhat predictable, it didn’t take away from the artistic vision and poignancy of its theme. The movie might have demons and nuns and seances and all that, but that isn’t what the movie is about. The movie is one giant metaphor that illustrates, quite viscerally, a present day issue.
Mild Spoilers Ahead! And possibly some hate mail from MRA’s…
After my wife and I finished watching Veronica (2017) on Netflix, we came away with two completely different takes on the meaning of this film. I thought this was just some super well done demon haunting story about… whatever, my idea about the story and theme have since been overshadowed by my wife’s interpretation, which is so far better than mine that I have forgotten it completely. My wife noticed a lot of things about the film that threatened to sail right over my head, but luckily I had her to help me catch them. In the film, she noticed the slimy men making sleazy comments as the young girl was walking her sisters and brother to school. She noticed that men were strangely absent from the screenplay, men were always in the background and totally oblivious to the trials and hardships that the women had to struggle through. The father was dead (The “real” father is still alive in the story this film is based on), the demon was a male; and God? Well, he was mentioned in the dialog (by a woman) as someone who either doesn’t care or won’t help. Even the detective, who stumbles upon a gruesome scene in the beginning (and end) of the film had frozen with terror when confronted with reality, while a woman police officer actually runs up to help the victim. This movie was about the near impossible hardships of being a woman, and men’s complete inability to empathize.
The film is chock full of symbolism that represents this theme, but the most telling is how the little brother is portrayed. He is the one male in the film that has the privilege to witness, first hand, the horror lurking in the apartment. He is completely dependent on Veronica however throughout the film he does not have the ability to participate in solving the problem, in fact his inability to listen for one goddamn second puts everyone in even more jeopardy, and by the end he believes his salvation rests in closing his eyes and ears. My wife had blown my mind once again and hopefully there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Maybe we should learn to listen and support women when they tell us what’s really going on instead of trying to explain it away. Perhaps we shouldn’t tell them that they don’t know what they are talking about. We, as men, should maybe try to hear what the problem really is before we try to fix it. Maybe we should raise our sons to respect women, or at least be aware of the tremendous feat of sheer will that it takes to survive as a woman today. I really don’t know what to do, but these ideas are a start.
Post Script: There has been a lot of buzz on the internet about this movie on Netflix that is so scary that the majority of its viewers have to turn it off. This of course is just clever marketing which might leave a whole lot of horror connoisseurs with a bad taste in their mouth. I would like to point out that marketing a movie as “the scariest thing ever” runs the risk of forcing people to say that it wasn’t all that scary as their initial response to the film. It’s happened to me before with the film VVitch, which was a spectacular film. This kind of marketing takes away from the intended message of the film, and it should be stopped.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.