("Verónica" from Apaches Entertainment, Expediente La Película AIE, Sony Pictures International Productions)
People are writing articles about the horror movie "Verónica" from director Paco Plaza, now on Netflix. They're calling it "too scary to finish" or adding it to the list of top scariest movies of all time. I have to be honest, it isn't. It's creepy but not unfinishable. It's unsettling but not rock-your-world terrifying. But you still need to watch it, and here's why:
The kids are charming as hell. And I don't normally "do" kids.
I don't understand children. I don't hate them, I just don't know how to interact with them or identify with them. Watching me try to play with a colleague's child is an exercise in awkwardness. My intentions are always good, but I usually say something like, "So, do you have any regrets yet or anything?" and the kid just stares at me, trying to be polite but also clearly looking over their shoulder to see if a safe adult is nearby. Given this social blind spot, I especially don't love watching a movie almost entirely populated with child actors. All I can really think about is how demanding or controlling their parents must be to want them in that type of career so young. It takes me right out of the film. But "Verónica" is so different.
The film is about a teenage girl (Verónica) whose mother works nights, so Vero must be a stand-in mother to her younger siblings. The beginning of the film sets the stage for the scary story and then cuts back to a few days earlier, as Verónica is getting her two sisters and ADORABLE brother ready for school. And this is why I love the movie. The realistic and easy interaction between these four kids is magnetic. None of them are "acting." The little boy, Antoñito (squeeeeeee!!!!!), is barely old enough to speak (and he already wears glasses so my HEART EXPLODED) but he steals every scene he's in because he's just living his life, reacting to the people around him. At one point something horrifying happens to Vero and Antoñito giggles, and of course he would! He's too young to understand what's going on so it just seems funny and unexpected to him. And the two young girls (who are maybe 10? I don't know. Kids all look either 5 or 10 to me....) have such an amazing ease with the way they interact with each other. You're not watching two girls act, you're watching two sisters play. It's almost impossible to describe; you just have to see it. But suffice it to say, after watching the first scene with these four, I almost wanted to go back in time and raise some siblings of my own because it seemed pretty easy. (A little bit like how the Boxcar Children books made you want to abandon your family and live a whimsical existence in the forest, forgetting that around 6pm you'd start to completely freak out because THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS and you want your mom.) The fluid, seemingly effortless depiction of a typical home life is such a testament to the talent of these actors and the incredible direction of Paco Plaza.
So watch "Verónica." It's fabulous. And there's a Ouija board and creepy blind nun in there too, so bonus points.