Veronica and the Release Strategies

Two things. First: Veronica. It’s the latest from Paco Plaza, the Spanish writer-director responsible for the first two [REC] movies. It’s a solid, well-made horror telling the ostensibly true tale of a luckless 15 year old who invites something horrible in after an ill-advised ouija game. The ensuing drama plays out mostly in a small Madrid apartment, ramping up the conflicts bit by bit, to a suitably chaotic climax. I enjoyed it. It won’t win many accolades (except for the acting, which was great) and it was all-in-all a gripping enough way to spend 90 minutes. So far so good.

The second thing, and the main reason I mention this movie at all, is that Veronica was released direct to Netflix, with zero publicity and no fanfare. Yesterday, no Veronica, today; ta-da. Netflix would seem to be a odd release strategy for a movie maker; it seems to be a kind of marketing deadzone, an apologetic admittance of middling quality……a limbo where good-ish movies go to die. Netflix is essentially the straight-to-video of 2018.

Having said that though, it’s also limbo where they’ll nevertheless be effectively remunerated, and get their film exposed to an audience of millions and millions of people around the world without having to risk it all on good reviews and box office takings. Given recent dabblings of similar strategies with Annihilation Bright and Cloverfield Paradox, this seems to be becoming “a thing” – or as Vice puts it: The Rise of the Straight-to-Netflix Hot Mess Movie

So while Netflix is a clearly game-changing on distribution and the choices it gives filmmakers, my feeling is that it won’t become a truly viable alternative to traditional release until the movies it premieres are of cinema quality. And that, in turn, depends on the egos of filmmakers and a little bit of funky magic.