Immaculate Image


By Benjamin Franz | March 25, 2024

If there is one takeaway from director Michael Mohan and writer Andrew Lobel’s horror film Immaculate, it is this: star Sydney Sweeney is quite possibly the most talented actress of her generation. Acting for the camera takes place mainly through the eyes. She has the most expressive pair of eyes. There is depth and nuanced emotion in virtually every scene. She brings a degree of energy other actors only provide under specific circumstances, e.g., when Emma Stone is under Yorgos Lanthimos’ direction. With Sweeney, you cast her in a role, and she fully embodies that character.

Here, Sweeney embodies Sister Cecilia, a young woman whom God saved as a child. Father Tedeschi (Álvaro Morte) recruited her to serve as a nun in a hospice convent in rural Italy. Father Tedeschi apparently spent the first 20 years of his professional life working in genetics before he found his calling in the cloth. He has recruited other young, fertile women to this convent. Sister Isabella (Giulia Heathfield de Renzi) instantly distrusts Cecilia, whereas Sister Gwen (Benedetta Porcaroli) finds a kindred spirit. This friendship proves a sustaining source of comfort for Cecilia.

You may be asking yourself, why would a horror movie that takes place in a hospice be titled Immaculate? Undoubtedly, this environment will only be inhabited by death, not life. But, by the end of the first act, Cecilia finds out she’s pregnant without having ever had sex with anyone. Thus, Lobel’s script becomes a hoary wordplay on the very concept of Mary’s immaculate conception of Jesus Christ.

“…Cecilia finds out she’s pregnant without having ever had sex with anyone.”

Throughout all three trimesters of abject horror, Cecilia proves to be resilient and indomitable. While she could not ever be mistaken for an action hero, Sweeney demonstrates a crafty intelligence in her eyes and the flush of her cheeks. She is more than capable of defending herself from all attackers, no matter how sneaky. Lobel proves he has a deep understanding of the human condition, mainly how a person responds to subjugation and coercive control. His screenplay is subtle and deadly. I am eager to watch more yarns penned from his hand.

Will Bates composed the music for Immaculate. The sepulchral organ music and the selections of Roman Catholic choral singing develop an appropriately grim and unforgiving atmosphere. The creepy score mirrors the older nuns, who at first seem decent but are hiding something behind their faithful veneer. The music brilliantly enhances the story and acting.

Immaculate is a contemporary version of a Grimm fairy tale. Throughout her journey to achieve the status of nun, Cecilia is confronted at every turn, cautioned how dreadful it will be to continue existing in this specific convent. As secrets unravel, the dawning horror proves almost too great for the human psyche. Gentle reader, I witnessed people break down and cry during the screening I attended. This is a hard film to watch. If you can stomach it and its terrors, this film rewards you with a cracking good fireside story. All horror fans and people who dig Sydney Sweeney should check out Immaculate. It’s worth the price of admission.

Immaculate (2024)

Directed: Michael Mohan

Written: Andrew Lobel

Starring: Sydney Sweeney, Álvaro Morte, Giulia Heathfeld de Renzi, Benedetta Porcaroli, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Immaculate Image

"…a contemporary version of a Grimm fairy tale."

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