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Immaculate

Updated: May 10

Until seeing IMMACULATE, I didn't get the hype around Sydney Sweeney. To be fair, I've only seen her in "Madame Web", a film so dismal that no one could shine in its mediocrity.

But I've heard the constant buzz around Sweeney as the next big thing.

After surviving the last ten horrific minutes of IMMACULATE, I get it.

She is a force.

Released the same month as "The First Omen", the film shares a similar story line, but is far superior in execution.

Sweeney stars as Cecilia, young and deeply faithful, newly arriving in Rome to be brought into the sisterhood. She meets a wide variety of fellow nuns, some funny, some mad along with some very intense sisters.

Father Sal (Alvaro Morte in a strong performance) is a former scientist fairly new to the priesthood. He takes Cecilia under his wing, sharing that the beautiful convent in the hills of Italy is the final spot for aging nuns. They are there to make their lives comfortable.

Almost immediately after becoming a nun (the night she arrives!) Cecilia begins to see strange things and suspect that something very strange is happening within the fortress walls.

Things turn even stranger when she starts having morning sickness and is proven to be pregnant, truly an immaculate conception within the convent's walls.

From that discovery on, the story twists & turns in interesting directions. Even when it's predictable, Director Michael Mohan and his Cinematographer Elisha Christian have enough style to turn the visuals on their heads, never afraid to force you to somewhere you don't want to look.

One scene in the confession booth uses Hitchcock like camera tricks to great effect, really giving you a taste of her disoriented state.

Not everyone is excited that Sister Cecilia is a modern day Mary.

Others seem a bit too protective.

What's really going on here?

The film shares DNA with Dario Argento's 1977 classic "Suspiria", hunkering a group of young women into a claustrophobic setting and unleashing evil.

Benedetta Porcaroli is great as Sister Gwen, giving off serious young-Penelope Cruz vibes in a critical role.

Sweeney actually auditioned for the role in 2014 when she was 17 years old, but the film never came together. After finding fame on "Euphoria", she became producer on the project, she reworked the scripts, hired Mohan and sold the film to Neon.

At just under 90 minutes, it's a quick, interesting horror thriller, capped with a final sequence that finds Sweeney's Cecilia staring into your eyes and unleashing scream after scream.

It's a bold and unsettling single-take shot that lofts Sweeney into the ranks of young actresses to watch. So many horror films show promise and then squander it in their final act.

Not IMMACULATE.

Sweeney and that ending earn a bloody solid B.




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