‘You have to do right what you did wrong…’
The peak-end rule is a cognitive bias that states that we will judge an experience on how we felt at its peak. Recency bias is a similar phenomenon that dictates that we will judge an experience based on its conclusion as that is the thing that still feels most visceral. Filmmakers might not have a clue how to properly reboot the Ghostbusters franchise but they sure as shit know something about the peak-end rule recency bias. If The Sixth Sense had started with the revelation that Bruce Willis is a ghost and ended with him having a friendly chat with some weird kid, nobody would remember that dumb movie. This is what makes structure so important; the ability to arrange events in the correct order is crucial to the outcome. With Veronica, Spanish director Paco Plaza has attempted to exploit this psychological loophole with limited success…
Veronica (Sandra Escacena), and her two utterly forgettable friends, decide to hold a seance in the basement of their creepy Catholic school during a solar eclipse. Apparently, they do this to enable Veronica to speak to her dead father but as this is barely mentioned at any other point in the film this remains unclear. If horror films have taught us anything, it is that black people don’t stand a chance when a murderous rampage begins. They have also told us another thing though and that thing is that Ouija boards are absolutely not OK. This particular Ouija incident results in various ghostly goings on in and around Veronica and her younger siblings. In true horror tradition, every adult in the story is either oblivious or laughably negligent, with the only exception to this rule being a blind, chain-smoking nun nicknamed Sister Death. I mean you would rather have her onside if possible but at the same time she isn’t loads of help.
To be fair to Plaza, he is clearly a talented director, not just because he is responsible for a genuine horror classic in REC but also because this is the best looking horror film you will see all year. Visually, Veronica really is stunning. The camera stalks Escacena and she replies with an energetic and impressive performance. Sadly, the story is so familiar and unoriginal that all the bright-eyed acting and ingenious direction in the world can’t save it.
Veronica’s most heinous crime however is that it simply isn’t scary. Despite being (loosely) based on a ‘true’ story, the scares are anodyne and predictable, and this is made even more disappointing by some of the hysterical marketing that accompanied the film.
Veronica is not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination but after being dubbed the scariest film of all time it is definitely a let down. Just give REC another spin instead.