‘Immaculate’: Saved by the horrifying performance of Sydney Sweeney

Courtesy of NEON Rated

The new movie “Immaculate” hit the big screen on March 22, 2024, which raised excitement and curiosity over seeing the beloved actor Sydney Sweeney in a new genre: horror.

Whether or not you should see this film, really comes down to the question of if you want to see another Sweeney movie, and let’s be honest we all always do. She is the only reason worth the price of the ticket for this watch.

The film begins with American nun Sister Cecelia, Sweeney, who is welcomed to the Italian countryside where she is offered a place in what appears to be, a safe and welcoming convent. Quickly, it becomes clear to Cecilia that her new home is nothing what it appeared to be.

Her character devotes her life to God after a near-death experience at a young age, and after her previous parish withered, she receives the opportunity to go to Italy and serve to help older, sick nuns during their last days. 

However, the beauty of the Italian convent slowly fades as she realizes her real purpose for being there, when she discovers that she is pregnant without congress with a man.

Sister Cecelia is selected as “the chosen one” for her to carry the next savior, which leaders at the convent were doing through science-like experiments in hope of conceiving another human form of God. 

The setting takes place in Italy, meaning Italian is spoken, often relying on the viewer to read the subtitles to follow along. However they aren’t always there, taking the viewer inside and out of Sweeney’s shoes throughout the movie — putting them in confusion with her.

If done correctly this would have been a nice touch, however I found myself confused and wondering what was going on half the time.

The entirety of the film only lasted a short one hour and 29 minutes, leaving some parts of the plot rushing to the ending. The best scenes in the movie are the first, and last five minutes which fill you with suspense and are sure to have you desperately wondering what’s going to happen next.

The final scene consists of one, five minute long straight shot in which Sweeney portrays some of the most raw emotion ever displayed in her career, that brings the film together to make it an okay watch.

After the final scene, and the credits appeared, murmurs filled the theater of confusion and awe, and many were left to sit for a few moments trying to define the confusion of what they just saw. 

The movie is classified as horror, although thriller would be a better fit. The film lacked the horror factor by only producing two jump scares, other than that I could pretty much assume what was going to be displayed next. It seems this was more an exploitation of the convent of nuns rather than a typical nun themed horror movie.

The gore is also something to note, as I haven’t seen a film this gory in a while. However, the gore helps to bring Sweeney’s range to life, seeing her distressed, covered in blood and screaming is a character fans have yet to see her play. 

I would also recommend watching the trailer before going, as I only read the description of the movie which is, “a woman of devout faith, who is invited to reside at a picture-perfect Italian convent, but slowly realizes that the convent harbors terrifying secrets.” 

This was insanely vague for what I was about to walk into, and I was left greatly confused at the start of the movie before catching on. I found myself getting bored through the middle, but like I said the ending scene made up for it.

Whether you enjoy it or not, “Immaculate” broke records for NEON, an independent film studio known for their low to mid budget movies, with its debut racking in an estimated $5.36M  nationally— the largest opening weekend ever for NEON, according to the box office.

The movie made back half of its budget in just one weekend, which I think we can all agree is thanks to Sweeney.

Directed by Michael Mohan, this had Sweeney fans on their seats ready to see the beloved actor in a new light. However, Sweeney had a role far more than just acting in this movie, as she helped edit the script which was originally made back in 2014.

“Originally the script was vastly different. Once I got my hands on it and we hired Michael, we drastically revised it so that it could fit who I am today and the world today. But the through line of the story always saves the same,” said Sweeney in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Sweeney takes a role like we have never seen before in this movie, with raw, emotional and gory moments brought alive by her acting. 

“One of the reasons I loved it so much was that some of the scariest and most raw, guttural moments in this movie are in real life,” Sweeney continued in the interview with Los Angeles Times.

The movie, “Immaculate,” is not one you should be running to the theaters to see, unless you are a Sweeney fan. I would describe this movie as a wannabe “Midsommar”, with similar filming and cinematography techniques revolving around a cult relationship.

It is quite frankly a bit stupid, but so much that in a way it becomes entertaining. I couldn’t tell you where the horror comes into play, but this movie will definitely make you uneasy and you will enjoy the performance of Sister Cecelia and her journey with the unborn savior.

“Immaculate” could have been just another movie where the plot is impossible to get into, however with the insane performance of Sweeney it transforms the movie into a must watch for fans to see her skills through a new genre. 

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