Contrary to the rest of my Graveyard cohort, I don’t always talk about horror flicks, but when I do, I tend to cling to the same human-interest facet that I cling to in music. Occasionally, Thirsty Thursday even looks these True Horrors TM in their dismembered faces. Whether it be survival of the fittest at subzero haunted hayrides or not being able to snap boho babe IG shots in the desert when the zombies start rolling in over the hill, I find the realities in between the lines to be among the spiciest ingredients in the sauce. Thanks to the most recent Netflix egg-lay, I took a look at a haunt rooted in internalized inadequacies from the ~feminist perspective~ (I’m sure some of y’all are already scared but try to stay with me).
My initial interest in Veronica (2017) stemmed from whispers that the film, directed by Paco Plaza of the REC franchise, is so scary that viewers have been closing out tabs mid-movie. I wouldn’t quite go jumping to those kinds of conclusions unless you’re, like, 12, but story is still plenty unnerving nevertheless (especially when you learn that its bones are based on a real-life case). While not 100 percent free from jump scares and “oh, she was just dreaming” laziness, there is much to admire about what Veronica’s haunt personifies. Subtly set in the 90’s with the addition of grungy synth bops and one of those beep-beep-boop-boop memory toys, we are taken through a stressful life turned increasingly chaotic. Veroncia, 15, takes care of her three siblings—two twin girls and a young boy—while her mom spends all night bartending and all day stringing it out in the wake of their father’s death.
Naturally, Veronica holds a seance with some of her girlfriends in the basement of her Catholic school in an attempt to contact her dad, but shit ends up going awry due to a concurrent solar eclipse. When Veronica wakes up in the nurse’s office after becoming temporarily possessed, a chain of spoopy events further derails her ability to navigate the two conflicting narratives of womanhood: “This Is What Makes Us Girls” carefree partying with friends and her thrusted role as a nurturer. Much of her surrounding anxiety takes form in a force that quite literally tears apart her apartment but dissipates in the presence of her mother and other non-believers. Holy moly—what an extended metaphor.
Misunderstanding abounds as Veronica attempts to fight her demons. The school nurse tells her to eat red meat in order to prevent any more possession pass-outs, but Veronica becomes ill while attempting to eat a meatball later that night. This incident goes to show that your body can literally and figuratively reject what is perceived to be empowering in the face of internalizing another false narrative. As the spoops really start rocking and rolling, Veronica employs the use of the Viking symbol of protection—a great demonstration of how the occult has become a cross-cultural hodgepodge—despite one of the twins dismissing it as ugly. Lest we forget, sometimes being a little ugly can be the best self-defense of all.
Yet, there seems to be at least one person in Veronica’s life who validates her vision of madness—the blind nun affectionately known as “Sister Death.” While the other sisters at Veronica’s school are also dismissive of Death’s ranting and raving, it becomes clear that her eyes are just that, at least in their own special way. With shockingly matter-of-fact delivery, Death discloses to Veronica that she had blinded herself to escape terrifying apparitions. But, as it turns out, she dun goofed because now she just sees demons instead of the world around her. When you’re raised as a woman—or when you possess any kind of marginalized identity—you develop a third eye that you wish you could just blind. Yet, much like evil itself, this paradox is much too complex to be combatted with “common sense” measures.
Also chock full of more overt True Horrors, Veronica has plenty of fun for those who don’t want to make their movie-watching experience a tedious trip back to English class. Incidents involving oversleeping and spilled milk ultimately cause stress to bleed out from your computer screen, soaking up all the cribble in your keyboard and staining your favorite hoodie.
Ultimately, Veronica copes with both overt and covert stressors by longing for escape. While the haunt shuts her in rooms and ties her to beds, the star of another tomorrow is wished upon through celestial appeals—employing a sun-centered Ouija board, looking into the eclipse, gazing into glow-in-the-dark ceiling decals, and so on. Even a jingle for floor cleaner espouses freedom from daily constraints, which Veronica ultimately sings to create a cloak of protection for keeping her siblings safe.
Unfortunately, Veronica falls into the trap mimicking escape that’s dug a few leagues before the Overcome—succumbing to demons. “It was me all along,” she asserts in a final revelation regarding the haunt’s source of harm. Internalizing her own victimhood, she believes that she has become what she perceived to be the worst manifestation of herself. You, you own your inadequacies. Depending on your interpretations, it’s up for debate about whether or not she was molested by her dad. But, regardless of whether she’s the victim of her father’s hand or her very obviously shitty situation, her fate remains the same. Ultimately, the old detective dude had to pay witness to this fate to believe it, implying that it takes someone from a point of privilege to tell the story of disadvantage in order to have accounts taken as gospel.
Moral of the story: trying to fulfill certain expectations can be very scary. We perceive these external darts as failures on our personal dartboard. The result? Madness and destruction. Also, just don’t eat meatballs. They’re not good for anybody. Just think about those words. Meat. Balls. Fuck, fix some pad thai or something idk.
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Oh, I really like this: “When you’re raised as a woman—or when you possess any kind of marginalized identity—you develop a third eye that you wish you could just blind. Yet, much like evil itself, this paradox is much too complex to be combatted with ‘common sense’ measures.” Nice!