It also may be terrifying to learn that “Verónica” was inspired by true events. The film is set in 1991, and mirrors details in the death of a girl named Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro who died that year. The story goes (and it was explored in the pages of NME) that Lázaro, too, held a séance in her school’s basement and also began experiencing strange, violent hallucinations shortly thereafter. In “Verónica,” the title character and her friend attempt to contact a recently dead boyfriend as well as Verónica’s father. In real life, it was also a case of trying to evoke a recently dead boyfriend. Lázaro began having seizures and other attacks of unknown origin. Her actual cause of death was unknown. 

Paco Plaza wasn’t telling Lázaro’s story, of course, but used it as inspiration for his fictionalized version. This is common for a lot of horror classics: Wes Craven was inspired to write “A Nightmare on Elm Street” after hearing stories of a teenage boy who was afraid he would die in his sleep, and William Peter Blatty based “The Exorcist” on a real case of supposed demonic possession. 

The plot of “Verónica” goes to some pretty predictable places after the demon is discovered and characters begin staging counter-seances to combat it. There’s a creepy, milk-eyed nun and a final confrontation with the specter that’s not nearly as scary as the film’s first half. But that first half really digs under the skin. The central image, of Verónica screaming out of a mouth that seems a little too large for her head, burns its way into memory.