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Paco Plaza’s ‘Verónica’ is Full of Terror and Tenderness [Review]

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Verónica

We had recently shared the news that Paco Plaza (of [REC] fame) has a brand new film that – to everyone’s surprise – dropped on Netflix without warning. Netflix took a page from their own playbook with the release of Verónica, a Spanish possession horror that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017.

Based on the true events of the supposed possession of Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro, Verónica takes place in Madrid in 1991. It’s been hailed for being so scary, some viewers can’t finish it.

via IMDb

So, that being said, let’s get something out of the way here.

Yes, this is a Spanish film with subtitles. If you’re avoiding watching it just because you don’t like watching a movie with subtitles, I’m disappointed in you. You’re closing yourself off to a whole world of absolutely incredible horror films. I’m not trying to lecture, but seriously. You will get used to subtitles, I promise you.

Additionally, let yourself be scared! If you’re going into a film with a defiant attitude, you’re not going to actually enjoy it as much as you were hoping to. There are no awards for remaining stone-faced during a movie. Just have fun.

Moving along.

Plaza masterfully weaves a tale of terror with Verónica. The titular character (played by newcomer Sandra Escacena) meets with two of her friends during a total solar eclipse, taking advantage of the supercharged natural phenomenon to try and contact her recently deceased father with an Ouija board.

via IMDb

As this is a horror film, their seance doesn’t go as planned, and soon Verónica is plagued by suspicious and discomforting unexplained activity. She placed a call to the other side and someone – or something – answered.

As an audience, we’re drawn in by the relationship that Verónica has with her young siblings – twin sisters Lucía and Irene and little brother Antoñito. With their mother working long hours at a local restaurant, the teenaged Verónica is left in charge of caring for the children.

As we observe this bright young girl though her daily life – waking, dressing, feeding, and bathing her siblings as the primary present caregiver in the home – it’s easy to understand why she would long for a connection with her father.

via IMDb

She has essentially taken over the duties as a parent and – under enormous pressure to “grow up” – you can absolutely sympathize with her for wanting to be able to act as a daughter again, even for just one brief conversation with an Ouija board. She is unable to properly grieve for her father – there’s no time in her day or room for weakness in front of her siblings.

We are constantly reminded of her youth – from the oversized school uniform and braces to the band posters decorating her room. She’s not a confident, rambunctious, wild teenager. She’s a girl who is desperately trying to maintain normalcy for the sake of those around her.

via IMDb

Once the threat becomes more and more apparent, Verónica is dedicated to protecting her siblings. An effective and often-used horror trope is childhood isolation – that sense that the monsters are real and there’s no one there who can protect you. Verónica thrives on this.

Fans of [REC] will notice that Plaza’s Verónica shows a stylistic maturity. The camera movement is sometimes subtle, but at the climax of the film it tracks the action so deliberately that you feel like you’re part of it. These frantic finale scenes are finessed with long takes and constant movement to drive the horror forwards.

via IMDb

Music is also a key component. The score is dissonant and unsettling, but offset with pop hits provided by Verónica’s walkman (from her favorite band, Heroes Del Silencio). This builds atmosphere while adding a personal touch to our connection with the character.

The film builds dread in an incredible way – some scenes are so thick with tension that you feel like you could cut it with a knife.

All of the young actors are phenomenal in their roles; while Escacena does the heavy lifting as Verónica, we should definitely acknowledge the wee Iván Chavero as Antoñito. He’s absolutely adorable and steals every scene with a sweet innocence.

via IMDb

Also, a shout out to Consuelo Trujillo as Hermana Muerte (aka “Sister Death”) for nailing the dichotomy of a wise and good-intentioned yet terrifying nun.

Overall, Verónica is a solid film with a healthy balance of fear-inducing dread and genuine heart.

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Doug Bradley Wants To Play Pinhead Again In A ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ Movie Adaptation

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This is exciting news for fans of the actor and the franchise. In an exclusive interview with Bloody Disgusting, Doug Bradley says, I certainly never say never. I’ve never said I was done with it. Check out more of what he says in the interview below.

Movie Scene from Hellraiser (1987)

Doug Bradley says, “I certainly never say never. I’ve never said I was done with it. I’ve never said I’m retired from it. I’m sensible about these things, too. I was in my mid-30s when I first played the character, and I was just turning 50 when I played him the last time. I ain’t in that age range anymore. I’m now in my 70th year, and to some extent, I think special effects makeup is a younger man’s game.”

Movie Scene from Hellraiser (1987)

Then, when talking about a movie adaptation of The Scarlet Gospels, he says “If we did that, we could maybe present an older Pinhead to be aware of the fact that I am the age I am, that time and gravity does what time and gravity does. An older, darker Pinhead would intrigue me, one not so much in love with the flippant one-liners and the witty comebacks and so forth.”

Deleted Scene from Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)

The Scarlet Gospels is a novel written by Clive Barker that was published in 2015. It served as a continuation of his novel The Hellbound Heart and the Harry D’Amour stories. The book followed the story of the Hell Priest, the demonic Cenobite nicknamed “Pinhead”, and his efforts to gain power. Occult detective Harry D’Amour must journey into Hell to rescue his friend and stop the Hell Priest’s plans.”

Movie Scene from Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

While Bradley does state he is too old for the role, The Scarlet Gospels follows an older pinhead which would work perfectly for the actor. Are you excited about the news of him playing the character again if this adaptation happens? Let us know in the comments below.

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Season 5 of HBO’s ‘True Detective’ Is Greenlit

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True Detective Season 5

Whether you liked Issa López’s interpretation of HBO’s True Detective: Night Country, the streamer has given her the go-ahead for another season, the fifth for the long-running series.

That’s right López will once again take the reigns of True Detective which HBO says the Night Country installment was its most-watched season of the creepy series to date, with its finale (aired on February 18) getting the highest viewership numbers since its premiere in January.

True Detective
True Detective: Night Country

“From conception to release, ‘Night Country’ has been the most beautiful collaboration and adventure of my entire creative life,” López told Variety. “HBO trusted my vision all the way, and the idea of bringing to life a new incarnation of ‘True Detective’ with Casey, Francesca and the whole team is a dream come true. I can’t wait to go again.”

True Detective: Night Country Official Trailer

Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming added, “Issa López is that one-of-a-kind, rare talent that speaks directly to HBO’s creative spirit. She helmed ‘True Detective: Night Country’ from start to finish, never once faltering from her own commendable vision, and inspiring us with her resilience both on the page and behind the camera. Alongside Jodie and Kali’s impeccable performances, she’s made this installation of the franchise a massive success, we are so lucky to have her as part of our family.”

López was very verbal on social media about doing Night Country, from the announcement she got the gig, until its completion. You might know her work outside of HBO starting with the sublime 2017 supernatural thriller Tigers Are Not Afraid.

Some viewers were divided on the supernatural direction Lopez took True Detective, but the overall consensus is that it was a great twist to an already phenomenal series.

True Detective: Night Country stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as two investigators examining the strange mass death of an Ennis, Alaska research team who may or may not have succumbed to a curse perpetuated by the indigenous people of the area.

There is no word yet on plot details but keep checking back with us and we will keep you posted.

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Josh Brolin Replaces Pedro Pascal in New Zach Cregger Film ‘Weapons’

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josh brolin

Horror fans who loved Zach Cregger’s Barbarian will be excited to hear that his new project Weapons is still in active production. An exclusive from The Hollywood Reporter states that Josh Brolin is in negation for the film’s lead role.

The role was originally meant for Pedro Pascal (The Last of Us) but a scheduling conflict with the new Fantastic Four film has caused him to leave the project. This is an interesting decision on the part of Pascal. The Fantastic Four film franchise hasn’t exactly gone well in the past. But hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?

Pedro Pascal
Pedro Pascal

Luckily, Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War) is showing up to fill the position. Horror fans have been wildly excited about the new project from Zach Cregger, even though very little is known about the project.

The Hollywood Report states that the film is ‘an interrelated, multistory horror epic that tonally is in the vein of Magnolia“. And I’ll be honest, I have no idea what that means, but it sounds amazing. If anyone can pull off a film like that, it’s Josh Brolin.

Josh Brolin

This would technically be Josh Brolin’s first horror film. The actor has been known to be very picky about who he worked with in the past. Fans are taking this as an indication that the film will be well written. Or at the very least, have an original concept.

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