Review: ‘Immaculate’ (2024), starring Sydney Sweeney

March 19, 2024

by Carla Hay

Sydney Sweeney in “Immaculate” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Immaculate” (2024)

Directed by Michael Mohan

Some language in Italian with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Italy, the horror film “Immaculate” features an all-white cast of characters representing the middle-class and working-class, with most of the characters as clergy from the Catholic Church.

Culture Clash: A young nun joins a convent, where she has nightmarish visions and finds out that she has mysteriously become pregnant.

Culture Audience: “Immaculate” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Sydney Sweeney and horror movies about nuns.

A scene from “Immaculate” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Immaculate” has no real surprises, but this horror movie about a pregnant nun delivers plenty of creepy suspense with some campiness. Sydney Sweeney’s committed performance and an intense ending are worth watching. The movie’s bloody gore goes where the lackluster “The Nun” movies are too tame to go. Sweeney is one of the producers of “Immaculate.”

Directed by Michael Mohan and written by Andrew Lobel, “Immaculate” had its world premiere at the 2024 SXSW Film and TV Festival. It’s an uncomplicated story about a young American nun named Sister Cecilia (played by Sweeney), who experiences horror at a Catholic convent called Our Lady of Sorrows in an unnamed rural area in Italy. The beginning of the movie shows Sister Cecilia arriving to take her final nun vows and live permanently at the convent. Viewers know that there’s something very wrong with this convent, because the opening scene shows a young nun trying to escape from the convent, but she is murdered by other nuns, who are wearing sinister veils over their faces.

The convent has a stereotypical stern Mother Superior (played by Dora Romano) and a patriarchal leader of the adjoining church: Cardinal Franco Merola (played by Giorgio Colangeli), who officiates the ceremony where Sister Cecilia takes her vows. He is also the clergyman who listens to the nuns’ confessions. Another associate of Our Lady of Sorrows is Father Sal Tedeschi (played by Álvaro Morte), who recruited Cecilia to the convent after her previous convent in the United States shut down due to low attendance for the church affiliated with the convent.

As soon as Father Sal tells Sister Cecilia that he had a scientific background in biology before he became priest, you can easily predict what the convent’s big secret is when virgin Sister Cecilia finds out she’s pregnant after undergoing an admittance medical exam at the convent. This admittance exam is not shown in the movie, but the movie shows the follow-up exam where Sister Cecilia is told that she is pregnant. Our Lady of Sorrows has an in-house medical professional named Doctor Gallo (played by Giampiero Judica), who works in a secretive room that looks more like a science lab than a regular doctor’s office.

Sister Cecilia, who is originally from the Detroit area, has a troubled past that is vaguely hinted at in the movie. She is plagued by nightmares and hellish visions as soon as she stays at the convent. One of her nightmares is a memory of when she was a child and had a near-death experience when she accidentally fell through an icy body of water and nearly drowned.

Sister Cecilia befriends another nun named Sister Guendalina, also known as Sister Gwen (played by Benedetta Porcaroli), who is the convent’s resident rebel. Sister Gwen tells Sister Cecilia that the several young nuns who are at the convent were recruited because they are “head cases or runaways.” Sister Cecilia asks Sister Gwen which category describes Sister Gwen. “Both,” Sister Gwen replies with a slight smirk. Another young nun at the convent is Sister Isabelle (played by Giulia Heathfield Di Renzi), who is standoffish and rude to Sister Cecilia.

“Immaculate” goes through some predictable motions of Sister Cecilia experiencing abuse and more terror at the convent. The movie has above-average cinematography and production design, which greatly enhance the sinister atmosphere. Of course, the main reason people will keep watching “Immaculate” is to find out what will happen if or when Sister Cecilia gives birth. It all leads to a memorable and terrifying series of events that make up for some of the occasional tediousness in the rest of the film.

Neon will release “Immaculate” in U.S. cinemas on March 22, 2024. The movie will be released on digital and VOD on April 16, 2024. “Immaculate” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 11, 2024.

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