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Review: Immaculate. Bloody, thrilling and great for a good time

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Michael Mohan.
  • Producers: David Bernad, Jonathan Davino, Michael Heimler, Riccardo Neri, Teddy Schwartzman and Sydney Sweeney.
  • Screenplay by: Andrew Lobel.
  • Cinematographer: Brett Jutkiewicz.
  • Music by: Brian Tyler.

Synopsis: an American nun goes to an Italian convent where sketchy things happen.

Shotgun Commentary: your average novice nun horror story, only with a decaf demonic nun.

Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney). Source: Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024).

Review

Immaculate follows Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney), an American lady who moves to an Italian convent after her parish closes for lack of attendance. During her stay, sinister occurrences take place, the height of which is her apparently miraculous pregnancy.

The story plays with the concept of faith and the moral limits of religion, criticising the hypocrisy of the Church every chance it gets.

Teasing religion

Throughout the film, Cecilia is often referred to as Santa. Other than the obvious miracle of conception without sin, the similarities between the protagonist and St. Cecilia are way too fitting to be accidental. Summarising for anyone unfamiliar with the story: St. Cecilia refused to be bedded by her husband because she had given her virginity to God, stuff happens and, oh surprise, men try to kill her over and over, failing every time. This story bears great resemblance to what happens to Cecilia in the movie, making her name a little Easter egg for any viewers who are knowledgable in Catholic religion.

Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney). Source: Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024).

The placing of this hint presupposes that Catholic, or Catholic-trained, people are going to watch the film. With this in mind, the critique of this religion hits harder. While religion is, at one point, sold as more accepting than science, this idea is twisted into religion being more cruel and uncaring than science due to the fanaticism that taints it.

The sacrifices and pain that people put themselves through in the name of religion know no boundaries. This film exposes that, leaving the possibility of the supernatural open, but never blaming that for the characters’ actions. Unlike in other films, people are cruel out of pure obsession and fanaticism rather than possession.

They excuse their actions as being God’s will, but neither he nor the devil play big roles in Immaculate. There is a hint of evil and possession to clarify to the audience that she is, indeed, bearing evil. However, it is not relevant other than as justification for what happens in the final scene.

The rightish move

Sweeney’s decision to play Cecilia in Immaculate is a really smart career choice. Cecilia allows her to show her acting abilities without her physique as crutch. In this role, Sweeney leaves behind what she is most known for and proves her talent as an actress once and for all, leaving no window open for the usual hate that she gets over her physical appearance and its exploitation.

Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney). Source: Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024).

Still, it is slightly frustrating that a role that could have completely erased the sexualised dimension of her persona in favour of her acting falls in the trap of, yet again, making her show her breasts. While not as exposed as in her other roles, there is a completely unnecessary shot of her pushing her boobs almost to her throat. The scene itself is great to showcase the irony of horrible religious people who torture and kill, lecturing her about shame. But, was that shot necessary? No. Would it be there if Cecilia was portrayed by a different actress? We will never know, but one can speculate.

The fake elephant in the room

Talking about poor decisions, whoever decided to stick with that car scene where she is yelling needs to reevaluate their life choices, or, at least, their professional ones. It has been decades since a failure that clear has been on display. Coming from a person who NEVER sees any continuity errors nor anachronic details, the displacement of that fake tummy is too obvious to not be laughable.

It completely takes away from a very intense situation, and even though Sweeney visibly tries to readjust her position so it is not as obvious, it is too late. The reasons why these shots made it to the final cut are unknown, so if anyone has any information about it, please do share.

Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney). Source: Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024).

This error brings the film closer to a slasher or a horror B-movie. Then again, so does the rosary possibly made out of steel that doesn’t break when you choke someone with it, the inexplicable decision to stare at a door until the danger comes at you instead of running, and the very detailed icky rotten nails and teeth that fall out.

However, all of that pales in comparison to the climax of the gore, the umbilical cord moment. It is so gratuitous and pointless and disgusting that makes you hopelessly fall in love with Immaculate. Yes, the whole crypt sequence shows great ability in horror storytelling. Nevertheless, it is that final climax that just ties it all together into a surreal, hilarious, exhilarating experience. A journey topped with church chanting for the credits and everything, to make sure they stuck their finger deep enough in the open wound (Christian pun intended).

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you make an escape plan, make sure to hide the evidence properly.
  • There is a time and a place to call bullshit, make sure you choose them wisely.
  • If a psychopath is trying to kill you, run. Don’t wait until they catch up to you to keep running, just run!
Cardinal Franco Merola (Giorgio Colangeli), Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) and Father Sal Tedeschi (Álvaro Morte). Source: Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Immaculate? What did you think of it? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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