Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Michael Mohan.

Starring Sydney Sweeney, Alvaro Morte, Simona Tabasco.

Horror, US, 89 minutes, certificate 18.


Released in cinemas in the UK 22nd March by Neon.


Usually when it comes to an actress whose star is in the ascendant, as is very much the case with Sydney Sweeney, the horror roles come first and then swept aside in favour of the safer choice of more mainstream fare. How refreshing to see after the box office success of her rom-com ANYONE BUT YOU that Sweeney jumps to the other end of the spectrum with IMMACULATE, a passion project of the actress after auditioning for it when she was only sixteen years old.


It is hard to see how a film could get away with putting a sixteen year old girl front and centre in something as dark as IMMACULATE. Telling the tale of a young nun, Cecilia, relocated from Detroit to a strict convent in Italy the audience are subjected to an often-gruelling series of events as Cecilia discovers she has fallen pregnant, despite keeping her vows. After a series of tests, Cecilia is celebrated as a miracle, but her suspicions are soon raised when an increasingly disturbing series of visions and events centred around the young woman come to pass.


At times, IMMACULATE feels like its own small kind of miracle; an original mainstream horror with a rising star that is unafraid to take a risk or two. Director Michael Mohan, collaborating once more with Sweeney after their streaming hit THE VOYEURS, conjures a foreboding doom laden atmosphere that contains slight nods to nunsploitation as well as a small number to Italian horror, the mysterious masked nuns that lurk in the darkness are more than a little reminiscent of the masked antagonist from Bava’s BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, whilst a certain blockbuster franchise is also evoked when one particular point comes to light. To name it would unveil one of the film mysteries which Cecilia finds herself investigating, leading the audience along in enjoyable fashion.


As enjoyable as the film is, it never really gets into high gear. It plods along despite several loudly scored jump scares and a willingness to place its gorier set pieces front and centre, never feeling the need to compromise to reach a wider audience. This lack of compromise fully reveals itself in a quite astonishing final scene, especially the lengthy final shot that further reveals the themes at the heart of the film. Shocking and disturbing in all the right ways, it has the potential to cause an uproar with certain folks in a way that the horror genre has not had the potential to do so in a long time.


In a way the end alone makes the film worth seeking out. Horror fans, as well as cult audiences with a taste for the outrageous, will no doubt admire the films darkness, as well as Sweeney herself for having the courage to hold onto the project and produce it after a decade or so. It has been said before about the rude health the genre is in just now and IMMACULATE is a prime example of how far it can be taken in the mainstream these days. Despite its sometimes-sluggish storytelling this is well worth checking out as soon as possible, if only for its extraordinary ending alone, best experienced before it gets spoiled and discussed to death by everyone else.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans