Verónica - Play with the Devil is a Spanish horror film from 2017 directed by Paco Plaza. The film is based on elements based on the true story of Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro, who mysteriously dies a few days after participating in an Ouija board seance. The film is based on the first police reports in Madrid, where a police officer attests to having experienced paranormal activities.

Story The film, set in 1991, revolves around the life of 15-year-old Verónica. She lives together with her mother and her three siblings, the twin couple Lucia and Irene and the youngest, Antoñito, in an apartment in the working class neighborhood of Vallecas in Madrid. Her father died recently and her mother works more and longer to keep the family financially afloat. Verónica is therefore responsible for her younger siblings before and after school. On the eclipse day, Verónica's teacher explains to her class how some ancient cultures used solar eclipses to stage human sacrifices and summon dark spirits. While the school gathers on the roof to watch the natural spectacle, Verónica, her friend Rosa and her classmate Diana go to the cellar, to perform a séance with an ouija board. Verónica wants to reach her father in this way. The board reacts immediately, but Rosa and Diana withdraw their hands the moment the glass gets too hot to touch. Verónica's hand stays on it and in the moment of darkness the glass shatters, cuts Verónica and drips blood on the board. The lights go out and the friends begin to search the room for Verónica. She lies motionless on her back and does not react. Suddenly she lets out a hellish-demonic cry and later finds herself back in the school nurse's office. She fainted and is told that she probably lost consciousness because of iron deficiency. From then on, Verónica begins to experience paranormal events. She can not eat her dinner as if an invisible hand would stop her. Claw and bite marks appear on her body and she hears strange noises. Her friends start to avoid her. In search of answers, she goes back to the school cellar and finds the older blind nun of the school, who call the students "sister death". The nun insults her because she has done something so dangerous without being aware of the consequences and declares that after the séance a dark spirit clings to her. She warns her to look after her siblings after she can not drive out the ghost. Verónica then draws at home protective Viking symbols to ward off the evil of their siblings. She tries to help Lucia one night as the ghost tries to stifle her. But Lucia says it was Verónica that strangled her. That night, Verónica dreams that her siblings are eating her. She wakes up and realizes that she got her period for the first time. As she begins to clean her mattress, she finds mysterious burn marks on the underside of the mattress. She finds these fire characteristics on all mattresses of her siblings, they all take the form of a human body. "Sister Death" tells her that she can make the ghosts go by doing what they did wrong in the first séance. It is important to say goodbye to the Spirit at the end of the summon. Verónica asks Rosa and Diana to help her hold another séance, but they refuse. Desperately, she decides to hold the séance with her young siblings. She lets Antoñito draw the protective symbols on the walls, but he flips on the wrong side and starts drawing symbols of the invitation. When she tells the ghost to say goodbye, he refuses. To stop helping, she calls the police. She escapes from the apartment with her twin sisters as the ghost grabs Antoñito. She runs back to rescue her and finds her brother hiding in the bathroom. She calls him to her, but he does not listen to her. Verónica looks at herself in the bathroom mirror and recognizes the demon in herself. She was the one who did damage to her siblings all the time. She wants to cut her throat in order to stop taking possession of the spirit, but is prevented by the demon. When the police arrive, they witness an invisible power that attacks Veronica and she loses her consciousness. The doctors carry her and Antoñito out, while a shocked detective watches the scene. When the detective sees a framed photo of Verónica, it suddenly catches fire. At the same time, he is informed that Veronica has just died.

Background The film is based on one of the most mysterious deaths in Spanish crime history. In August 1991, Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro, then 18 years old, died after having held an "Ouija" session with her best friends at her school in Madrid half a year earlier. She had tried to make contact with a friend she had died and suffered severe hallucinations and convulsions afterwards. Although she had been medically examined several times, the doctors could not have established a diagnosis. She was eventually taken to a Madrid hospital, where she died shortly thereafter. Her parents also witnessed inconceivable incidents in her home.

Reviews "Solid ghost scare that slowly builds its terror and condenses it consistently to make it escalate in a spectacular finale." -