Horror fans have been pushed to their limit by this Netflix original film – and it’s based on a terrifying true story.
There’s no denying that many of us have a complicated relationship with horror films: whether you prefer to chomp through a bucket of popcorn whilst watching ghoulies and ghosties wreak havoc on screen, hide behind your fingers as a serial killer stalks their prey, or scream loudly as that big jump-scare catches you off-guard, there’s nothing quite so delicious (and draining) as being terrified out of your wits.
According to a 2004 paper in the Journal of Media Psychology by Dr. Glenn Walters, the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unrealism.
And it seems as if Netflix’s Veronica, directed by Paco Plaza, fulfills all of the above criteria, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it 100% on its “tomatometer” based on 12 reviews.
However, it may have pushed the fear factor just a little too far – so much so that some viewers, unable to cope with the chilling movie, have been forced to switch off halfway through and retreat to a safe place under their duvets.
“Started watching Veronica on Netflix (huge REC fan so interested in anything Paco Plaza is involved in) but the demon walking down the hallway scene freaked me out so much I had to turn it off,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another added that, while they watch a lot of horror movies, they still had to “take a mental breather halfway through”.
Lol last night I was trying to watch Verónica a horror movie so I cleansed myself first and then at scary points the a/c kicked on and the ice machine rattled. I was like hell tf no and turned it off.— Se'mana aka Mx. Semee (@SemanaThompson) May 10, 2018
I watch a lot of horror movies. @paco_plaza's #Verónica is the first time in a while that I have had to take a mental breather halfway through. Truly terrifying and deeply human. A gorgeous and twisted possession story about innocence lost. Highly recommended! pic.twitter.com/0PaTiZX5wg— Brandon Schmidt (@brandknob) March 1, 2018
I’m a little late... but watch Veronica, I had to turn it off because I was too scared 😭— honey bunny (@clarissaramir) May 7, 2018
So what’s gotten everyone so freaked out?
The plot is simple enough: set in 1991 Madrid, Veronica follows a teenage girl of the same name, who uses an Ouija board to make contact with her best friend’s late boyfriend during a solar eclipse.
In typical horror fashion, though, things don’t go to plan: Veronica (Sandra Escacena) ends up contacting her dead father instead. At the exact moment of the eclipse, the glass cup used during the séance shatters and cuts Veronica’s finger, causing a drop of her blood to fall onto the Ouija board itself. The teen lets out an inhuman cry before passing out and, from that point on, seems marked by an evil supernatural force – one which, at one point, takes on the appearance of a cigarette-smoking nun.
So far, so horrifying. What adds to Veronica’s creepy charms, though, is the fact that it is based upon a true story.
In 1992, a young girl named Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro organised a séance at school in order to contact the late boyfriend of one of her friends, after he died in a motorcycle accident (so far, so similar).
The ritual was interrupted by a teacher, but the group describe seeing a strange smoke going up through Lazaro’s mouth and nose.
According to contemporary reports, Lazaro began to suffer from severe seizures and hallucinations, telling her parents she could see “evil” shadows walking past her room at night. Concerned, they took their daughter to see several doctors, but none of them could find anything wrong with her.
Some six months after the séance, Lazaro was found dead, the cause of which remains unknown. Her parents, though, said they thought that her passing had something to do with the Ouija board, and claimed that their house became haunted after Lazaro’s passing: they experienced slamming doors, electrical appliances switching on and off, and a mysterious whispering.
These phenomenon were verified by police reports – although the “hauntings” were said to stop as soon as the Lazaros moved house.
Veronica was originally released on Netflix on 26 February, and is still available for viewing now… if you dare, of course.