Dissecting Veronica (2018)

I mentioned Veronica in the latest Watchin’ Stuff already, but now I’m here to subject you to an extremely lengthy analysis of this movie that has been so stuck in my head all week. Needless to say, there will be massive spoilers for the entire movie, so don’t click this one if you haven’t seen it yet (which you really should)!

Alright, so let’s see what we can uncover here. This ended up being ridiculously long so I’m going to highlight a few of what I feel are especially relevant parts for those who don’t feel like reading this whoe damn thing.

00:05:00 – Veronica is putting her brother’s peepants in the laundry, something she’ll begrudgingly do several more times during the film, and while she’s getting the laundry ready we have the first “neighbor” window shot. She sees an unknown girl of a similar age to her play-singing in a room.

Worth noting is that this girl has a very similar look to the guy or guys in the band posters all over Veronica’s room, with big curly hair and a bandana on the forehead. Veronica sees this scene and smiles, most likely remembering a time when she was free to do the same carefree things instead of having to wake up and immediately start taking care of her siblings. At the end of this scene she also begins to mimic the motions that the girl across the way is making, as if she’s done these same motions before, so it seems that this must be a song that she’s familiar with and that the similarity to the band posters isn’t just a coincidence. Her mood becomes very happy during this brief scene.

There are several more scenes very much like this in the movie, and I think they’re probably a lot more important than they may initially seem. They definitely start to paint a picture regarding her unspoken wishes that she could return to a simpler time when her father was still alive and she didn’t have to carry the responsibility of being a surrogate parent to her siblings, as well as some other things that I’ll get into later, as the corresponding scenes play out.

Even now though, it’s hard to speak with complete certainty regarding these window scenes. Are the things she sees just coincidentally similar to past events in her life or are these neighbors merely metaphorical representations of her inner fantasies? And if it’s the latter, are these scenes based on memories of actual events from the past or just fantasies of what she wishes she was doing at that moment instead of taking care of her siblings? It’s hard to say.

Anyway, the scene is cut short by the interruption of the needs of her siblings, and her mood very noticeably shifts from happy to extremely annoyed, now that the brief daydream has ended and reality has sunk back in. They make it very clear right from the beginning here that she’s doing basically all the parenting in the household and not too thrilled about it.

00:06:19 – The crucifix on the wall has fallen onto the floor. This is before any trouble has started, and it’s something that happens a few times later, but at that point is painted as a more ominous sign. Is this mean to show that this is actually just a normal occurrence in this home, which I suppose goes to plant another little seed of doubt towards the existence of the evil spirit? Or is this the actual first sign of trouble on the day that things start to go wrong? Again, it’s hard to say.

00:06:56 – Veronica goes digging through the old pictures and comes upon the picture of her dead father. Interestingly enough, they don’t actually come out and say this at all (at least not until later), it’s just implied by this scene and his absence from the house. Like many other scenes in the movie, subtext is just filling in the blanks without having to spoonfeed you an infodump.

We also see Veronica and her mother reflected in a mirror. The first of many mirror/reflection related shots in the movie. Looking back, I suppose this represents the reversal of roles where Veronica has replaced her mother as caretaker to the younger siblings, while her mother is always away at work or sleeping.

00:09:35 – Here we have the eclipse lecture in Veronica’s class. You know, it didn’t even occur to me at the time, but she goes to an all girls school. Remember that for the big theory later on.

So past the technical details of the eclipse, they start describing their supernatural implications (which seems kind of odd for some nuns to be bringing up, but ok). They talk about darkness reigning over the light and it being a good time for sacrifices to be made. Veronica seems to have an oddly strong reaction to the part about Mayan blood sacrifices and has a weird little mental flash of an eclipse, then we’re told that the eclipse has just started.

As they’re leaving the room, there’s a moment of not-so-subtle foreshadowing when Veronica stands in front of the projector and the image of an eclipse is projected onto her.

00:12:14 – Right before the Ouija scene begins. Veronica is noticeably upset that Rosa has invited someone else to their secret Ouija session. “Rosa, it was supposed to be between the two of us” is sure an interesting way to phrase it.

00:16:05 – The Ouija scene is in progress. There’s a scene transition that places the sun over Veronica’s face for a moment. I suppose that in the eclipse analogy she would be the sun, the moon creates the eclipse, representing the evil spirit that comes between her and Earth, which would be what? Her family? Her life? Or perhaps this goes towards the ongoing themes of growing up and losing your innocence, in that Veronica has learned or needs to still learn that “the Earth doesn’t revolve around her”? Hmm. Alternatively, the Earth could represent her mother, and the moon could be the younger siblings coming between them.

We also see a brief scene where the younger sisters are up on the roof watching the eclipse through film negatives, and you can see that one of the sisters is looking at a negative of the same picture of the father from earlier, which transitions directly to the picture again and the revelation that the father is who Veronica is trying to contact through this seance.

We also have a Ouija board with a sun and moon prominently displayed on them. I guess they’re on all Ouija boards now that I look into it, but I’ve never really noticed before. When they ask who is speaking to them, the board points to the sun, which apparently is supposed to indicate a benign spirit, but then right as the eclipse becomes full the glass shatters, which cuts Veronica’s finger, and blood drips down onto the picture of the sun. It didn’t occur to me the first time, but this must be the blood sacrifice mentioned earlier. Some virgin blood sacrificed right at the moment of the full eclipse and suddenly everything goes wrong right at that moment.

After Veronica apparently becomes possessed and collapses on the floor, Diana goes to get help and doesn’t witness any of the final moments of the scene. Veronica is mumbling something as she lies on the floor and Rosa kneels down to hear her whisper something, but exactly what isn’t revealed until later. Veronica then goes into her crazy possessed scream, which again, only seems to be seen by Rosa, and I guess she doesn’t tell anyone.

Also worth noting is that the Ouija board has split in half, something that will come up again later, which could represent the beginning of the divide between Veronica and Rosa, as it seems that after Veronica was brought to the nurse’s office off-camera, Rosa just took off without waiting for her like usual (can’t really blame her after seeing what she saw though).

Sister Death also appears to give ominous looks at the sun during the eclipse and at Veronica as she’s leaving school afterwards. I don’t know that there’s anything more to her character than being the token inexplicable know-it-all elderly person in a horror movie. We’ll see.

00:23:37 – The scene changes to the bar that Veronica’s mother works at. We’re shown a picture of the mother and a young Veronica with no siblings in sight, a little novelty trophy saying “World’s Best Mother” that was presumably given to her by Veronica, as well as some other assorted personal artifacts around the mother’s work space, then we see the mother working, but then the camera pulls back and reveals that we were seeing this all in a reflection again. Again, that reflection, as if to say everything’s turned around. Veronica and the kids then enter the scene outside of the reflection. Veronica tries to tell her mother something, we don’t know exactly what, but she’s too busy with work and ignores her.

Veronica then brings the kids home by herself and gets to work feeding and taking care of the kids once again.

00:25:00 – We see that Veronica has brought the broken Ouija board home. She looks at it regretfully then sticks it up on top of the wardrobe in her room, but it magically falls off as she walks away twice, as if to say “you can’t just walk away from this”, but then she just sticks it under her bed.

00:28:00 – Veronica has some kind of seizure at the dinner table, which is brought to a halt when her sister drops milk on the floor and it touches her feet? I have no idea what that’s about. I’m not aware of milk having any effect on evil spirits. It wasn’t like she was splashed with the stuff either, a little bit just touched her foot and it immediately snapped her out of it. I’m at a loss on this one.

Afterwards she goes to the bathroom and she checks herself in the mirror, and it seems that there is a strange hand-shaped bruise and/or claw mark on her shoulder, which maybe we’re to take as the spirit touching her there and causing the dinner episode, but then she puts her hand up to it and moves it along the mark and it seems to line up with it perfectly, suggesting that it could be self-inflicted. At this point you have to wonder, is there even any spirit, or is she just crazy and having weird fits? As with most scenes in the movie, until the end, evil forces are implied, but rarely explicitly shown, and there’s often a plausible explanation at hand that doesn’t involve spirits (though obviously we learn that all these wounds WERE self-inflicted, but that the spirit caused this without her knowledge).

Afterwards we learn that Rosa has called while Veronica was in the bathroom and left a message that she wouldn’t be coming over tonight because she has to do some stuff for her mom. Again, Veronica seems very taken back that Rosa has avoided her again. She calls Rosa back only to find that Rosa has actually already left somewhere with new friend Diana. Sadtrombone.wav

00:32:20 – Something starts banging loudly in Veronica’s room, leading to the burnt bro in the bathtub scene. When they’re talking about the water being too hot, little bro tells her “it wasn’t you”, even though we learn later that it was in fact her (or the spirit controlling her, but physically it was her body that did it). One of many implications that the little brother has some kind of secret insight into what’s going on. Is this just another instance of the cliche of elderly wise people and very young children having special ghost vision? I suppose so. I don’t see any other real reason for this or any of the other inexplicable things this kid turns out to know during the movie.

00:36:00 – The spirit is shown in a reflection, but it was also seen walking down the hall immediately before that, so I’m not sure that this has any particular relevance beyond dramatic effect, despite how often reflections are being used in this movie. We see a lot of shots of the spirit walking around outside her during the movie too, so it seems to just jump back and forth between directly possessing her and walking around outside her at random.

Afterwards though, before she goes to sleep, Veronica takes the broken Ouija board and moves it from under her bed to inside the wardrobe. It almost seems like each time Rosa has let her down, she goes and hides the board away in a different spot, perhaps representing her apparent repression of the pain that you can see on her face during these moments, but which she never explicitly reveals to anyone.

As she’s lying down and waiting for sleep to come, she stares up at these glow in the dark galaxy stickers on the ceiling and shines the flashlight on them to activate them. The flashlight centers exactly on a figure of the moon (remember, moon for eclipse and spirits with bad intentions) right before she falls asleep.

She’s woken up a bit later by the wardrobe door suddenly opening, where…there’s a mirror again. She looks at her reflection in the dark and her face seems to distort ever so slightly, in a moment that feels like she literally doesn’t recognize herself in the mirror anymore. She finds her sisters cowering inside the wardrobe, apparently hiding from her naked dead dad behind them. This part all seems to be a dream though. All just more foreshadowing for what was to come later.

00:41:28 – Back in school the next day, the nuns are talking about “Becquer’s Legends”, where we’re told of a protagonist who was warned of the rules, but broke them anyway, and paid the price for it. This is apparently referring to The Legends of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, which is a series of short stories. The one featuring the characters Beatriz and Alonso that are mentioned here apparently deals with a man who has feelings for his cousin, but she doesn’t have feelings for him. Alonso tries to talk her into marriage, but she isn’t having it, and so she decides to trick him by sending him on a foolish quest to find something she’d lost, with the implication that she’ll change her mind about him if he can get it done. Unfortunately, this item also happens to have been dropped in a place that’s said to be terribly haunted. In the course of trying to track this item down for her though, Alonso is killed. Later his ghost apparently comes back to haunt her and she dies of fright.

So in short: Guy loves girl, girl doesn’t love him, guy tries to win girl over by messing with spirits, and then dies horribly at the hands of spirits, then ghost guy causes girl to die. Other than the last part, that sounds rather familiar. Could this be referring to Veronica’s feelings for Rosa (I know, I haven’t even gotten into that yet, but it’s coming) and her subsequent death due to an attempt to get closer to her gone wrong?

Another story is mentioned where someone is attacked for defiling a sacred statue, with the nun explaining that the moral is that “no one escapes the consequences of passing the limit that divides reality from fantasy”. TOPICAL!

Meanwhile Veronica is staring longingly at Rosa, and is about to pass her a note, but then sees that Rosa has instead passed a note to new friend Diana, and changes her mind and leaves.

This is when she has her run in with Sister Death down in the same room the seance took place in, who is kind enough to point out the importance of metaphor (what IS the french toast a metaphor for? Desire, maybe? Or maybe simply a reference to how the blind nun magically knew what had happened there?). She doesn’t offer anything particularly helpful though, which is always odd given that these characters always seem to know it all. Though she does point out that Veronica has siblings which are going to need protecting from the evil spirit, with it being seemingly implied that maybe she could just run away, but nope, have to take care of those kids again.

Afterwards, Veronica sees Rosa getting friendly with a boy, and seems awfully offended by it. Initially, I thought she was just mad because Rosa was hanging out with Diana again, but looking back, she seems to react more to the presence of the guy and asks “who was THAT?” with such venom in her voice.

00:51:00 – A horrible downstairs neighbor stops by to complain about all her lamps shaking and that there’s a big black stain on the ceiling right under Veronica’s bedroom (where the Ouija board is under the bed).

Then we see that wolf painting for the first time. A prominently displayed painting of a pack of black wolves chasing after a stag. The evil is closing in, I suppose. This painting will pop up again later.

Next is the second window scene, where Veronica is doing some more peepants laundry, and sees a scene across the way where the young girl from before seems to be sitting at a desk studying and her father comes up to offer what would seem to be kind words of encouragement. Again, is this a memory of the past or just wishful thinking? Who knows, but in the process of this daydream, the sheet she was hanging to dry slips away and falls down to the ground several stories below, as if to warn that what’s important might slip away if you’re too busy daydreaming or dwelling on the past.

Of course, just then another ghost attack occurs. This one where the spirit is choking one of her sisters, but then it disappears without anyone else seeing it, and it looks an awful lot like Veronica was the one doing the choking. This scene in particular made it really look like she was just crazy and that this spirit might not even exist, at least at the time.

01:01:50 – Veronica falls asleep staring at the moon on the ceiling again, and once again “wakes up” to find herself in a nightmare. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Veronica dreams that her siblings are eating her alive and choking the life out of her, as her mother stands by and does nothing but tell her she needs to grow up, then she waves her hand and causes Veronica’s crotch to bleed, which is essentially her waving her hand and making her grow up against her will. Again, this is just highlighting how she feels about her life, her regret and fear being forced to grow up and take on all this responsibility before she was ready for any of it, and resenting her siblings and mother a bit for it.

Again, this is more than just a bad dream, it’s also more foreshadowing. Once Veronica wakes up for real, she finds that she has indeed begun bleeding in what I assume must have been her first period. This is also the last day of the movie. I wonder if this didn’t count as another blood sacrifice, which made things worse on this final day?

While cleaning her mattress, she notices a strange black stain underneath it. This would have to be part of the same black stain mentioned earlier by the downstairs neighbor. She also finds that her siblings mattresses have also suddenly grown large black stains in the shapes of bodies. Things are getting worse, it seems. Her brother also seems to be drawing pictures of an entirely black figure menacing them, but no one seems to notice this.

She’s also wearing a t-shirt with a black wolf on it, which will come up again.

01:08:10 – Veronica finally goes back to Sister Death for help and Sister Death finally decides to cough up a little more information, but still manages to be overly cryptic and nearly useless. Sister Death tells her that the spirits (apparently it’s more than one) have to be sent back the way they came, that she needs to bid them farewell, then destroy the “door”, making sure to make the distinction that the Ouija board is not the door, and that she has to “do right what she did wrong”.

Veronica takes this to mean that what she did wrong was simply not saying goodbye to the spirit during the Ouija session, but the way Sister Death describes it they sound like they’re two separate things. Given that saying goodbye turned out not to work later, it seems possible that there may have been something else that she did wrong.

After this chat she reads in a Ouija book that “whatever you don’t say goodbye to, stays with you”, which struck me as a powerful statement when the subject is dead loved ones. I suppose that maybe this was her real mistake, never letting go of her dead father. It is what got her into this mess after all. Maybe she fails to get rid of the spirits later because she never does this.

01:12:15 – Veronica then rushes to Rosa’s party where she tries to get Rosa and Diana to leave to come redo the Ouija session properly. I’m not sure why she thought they both had to be involved, as it doesn’t seem to be required. Maybe just an excuse to see Rosa again (who I guess she also should have said goodbye to).

Rosa reveals that what Veronica whispered to her the first day was that she (meaning Veronica) was going to die today, and then Veronica faces the final rejection of Rosa, which she seems a little more hysterical about than she should. I think this was more about losing Rosa than the Ouija board.

As she walks away, we see a lot of people walking around in the background, but they’re all walking backwards. Then Veronica walks past a copy of herself that seems to be mimicking her movements in reverse. More reverse reflection imagery, but before there’s time to question or acknowledge it the scene changes again. Not sure what to make of this one. Questioning of one’s identity and their place in the world perhaps?

01:17:15 – I think this is probably one of the most important scenes in the movie. It’s the last window scene, but this time instead of doing laundry we see Veronica holding up the two halves of the broken Ouija board (which I have already theorized may represent the split between her and Rosa). She holds them up to the window and between them, sees people across the way again. We see two figures whose faces we can’t see clearly, but it looks an AWFUL lot like someone with an extremely similar hairstyle to Rosa kissing who looks to be the girl seen in the other window scenes that Veronica had either been imagining herself as or projecting herself onto or whatever it was. She looks sad and then brings the halves of the board together, covering the view of the window.

Given the themes of the previous window scenes, I can only assume that this another instance of either a memory of her past or a wishful fantasy manifesting before us. You could argue that the figures are too blurry to clearly see if the one with Rosa’s hair is actually a female, but then I ask you, of what significance is this scene if this was merely two completely random strangers kissing for no reason? No, there’s way too much symbolic imagery going on in this movie, there’s the pattern established by the previous two window scenes, and there’s the very deliberate way this scene was framed and timed. There’s no way this was just a coincidence, and looking back it explains so many of her actions and reactions throughout the film. There’s no way to tell for sure if there was ever actually anything between them or if this is just a fantasy, but Veronica was in love with Rosa, I am entirely convinced of that.

01:19:14 – As the final night begins, Veronica enlists her siblings to help her scrawl “viking symbols of protection” all over the walls of their home. They didn’t seem to be of any help before so I’m not sure why they would suddenly work now, but oh well. It doesn’t much matter anyway, because the dimwitted little brother suddenly decides to flip to a different page in the book he was given, and instead of “viking symbols of protection”, he draws “symbols of invocation”. Thanks, bro! This kid basically killed his sister with his stupidity, but again, oh well. Just in case you didn’t get that this was bad, the cross falls off the wall again right then too.

01:30:07 – Veronica could have gotten away and survived right here, but she did the responsible thing and went back for her stupid little brother, so I guess she ended up growing up after all, in a way.

A minute later we see that wolf painting again. The wolves seem to move and then the painting falls from the wall. It seems even more significant now that she’s wearing that black wolf shirt. I imagine that the wolves represent the spirits closing in on their helpless prey, and the shirt was kind of a sign that they finally really had her.

Then there’s yet another mirror scene when the spirits smashes Veronica into the bathroom mirror. She takes a moment to stare at her shattered reflection before picking up a large shard. We see the spirit walking behind her as she walks away, down the hall calling for her brother with a kind of sinister look on her face. It seems that the spirit is influencing her again.

She walks into her room…and everything is backwards. We’re in a mirror image again. She finds her brother, looks in a mirror again and this time sees an evil looking version of herself. She finally realizes that the spirit had been taking actions through her all along.

She says “It’s me. It’s me.”, and I can’t help but feel like she also might have been making that realization that comes between youth and adulthood, where you suddenly see that so many of your problems were due to your own irresponsible actions and immature thoughts (or…maybe that was just me).

01:37:10 – The paramedics are taking Veronica to the ambulance as if she might still be ok, but then the camera shifts focus to the wolf on her shirt, as if to say “NOPE!”, and a minute later they call to say that she’s just died off-camera.

Right when she dies, a hole spontaneously burns into her face on a picture of her on the ground. It looks a little like an eclipse.

So that’s about it. I still don’t have all the answers to all the imagery here (and I still don’t know why spirits like playing Simon so much or what the fuck Centella is), but I hope that if you’ve read this, I’ve at least clued you in on some things you may have missed the first time too.

One comment on “Dissecting Veronica (2018)

  1. […] obviously something that everyone enjoys, but it’s pretty fascinating to me. You can click on that other post I just made that’s entirely about this movie in overwhelming detail if you’d like to know […]

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