There was a considerable wait for the new movie by Paco Plaza, Sister Death, released on Netflix in October 2023. Representing one of the most important horror releases of the year, the movie was presented as the prequel to Veronica, his iconic movie released in 2017, and that was the center of many questions. Since Veronica was based on a famous true story that occurred in Spain in the 90s, it’s interesting to analyze how Sister Death connects with that story. Also, the 2023 movie mentions a “holy girl from Peroblasco,” and the director revealed the inspiration behind it in an interview before the movie’s release. Let’s discover everything in this article.
Sister Death on Netflix: is the holy girl a true story? How is it a prequel to Veronica?
The 2023 Netflix movie Sister Death follows the story of Sister Narcisa, a novice who joins a convent in Spain in the years following World War II. After arriving there, she discovers the secret story of Sister Socorro, who was raped during the war and gave birth to a girl who accidentally died inside the structure. Therefore, the movie will become a story of revenge where Sister Socorro, who committed suicide after her daughter’s death, will return to haunt the two nuns responsible for the child’s death, killing them.
How is Sister Death connected with the 2017 movie Veronica? In Veronica, an elderly blind nun is one of the characters who speaks with the protagonist: she’s called “Sister Death,” and the ending scene of the 2023 movie explains that she’s Sister Narcisa, who keeps teaching the students even after the events in the convent. From this point of view, Sister Death is not meant to tell the actual events that occurred before the true story behind Veronica, but simply develops a new, fictional plot around the character of the blind nun.
The backstory that inspires Sister Death is presented at the movie’s beginning: we see old footage of the “holy girl from Peroblasco,” a little child who saw the Virgin Mary in the 30s, and spectators wonder if that’s a true story. Peroblasco is a real town in Northern Spain, but no apparitions have ever been reported in that area, so the holy girl from Peroblasco is not a true story. However, director Paco Plaza explained that the movie took inspiration from the real story of a series of apparitions that became very famous in Spain in the 60s.
In this Spanish interview with Paco Plaza on La Vanguardia, the director explained that the character of Sister Narcisa was inspired by one of the four girls protagonists of the Garabandal apparitions, which occurred from 1961 to 1965 in the village of San Sebastián de Garabandal, in Cantabria, Northern Spain. The Garabandal apparitions are one of the most famous apparitions that ever happened in Spain, extensively discussed and analyzed over the years. You can find a complete overview of their story here on Wikipedia.
As Paco Plaza explained in that interview, the doubts Sister Narcisa has in the movie Sister Death, when she confesses she’s not sure she really saw the Virgin Mary, are inspired by the true story of the declarations by one of the Garabandal girls, Mari Cruz González. The origin of that part of Sister Death is a controversial interview Mari Cruz released to El Pais in 1984, published with the title “Mari Cruz, the seer who saw nothing.” You can find an online version of the interview (in Spanish) here on El Pais’ official website. In that interview, Mari Cruz said: “I never saw the Virgin in the pines or any celestial character,” explaining that the details about the apparitions were mainly reported by Conchita González, the “principal visionary” of the group.
That statement marked Paco Plaza’s memory, and Narcisa’s doubts in Sister Death are inspired by that true story. The 2023 horror movie also includes another element related to the true story of the Garabandal apparitions. According to the descriptions reported by the four girls, they saw Saint Michael the Archangel in 1965, sharing a message from the Virgin Mary. In the movie, the statue of Saint Michael is the one that kills sister Julia at the movie’s ending.
As often happens in the world of horror movies, Sister Death was inspired by something that really happened, with the director creating a new plot from a true story. Considering also the connection with another famous horror movie, Veronica, we can see all the elements that are contributing to the popularity of this film on Netflix.