Immaculate Review

Image Source: IMDB

Movie: Immaculate

Production Company: Neon

Director: Michael Mohan

Producers: David Bernard, Christopher Casanova, Jonathan Davino

Scriptwriter: Andrew Lobel

Main Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Alvaro Morte, Simona Tabasco, Dora Romano

Release Date: 22nd March 2024

Running Time: 89 minutes

Certificate: 18

Immaculate – Introduction

With the success of Jame Wan’s Conjuring franchise, horror features featuring a religious element, like Mohan’s Immaculate, have seen a spike in popularity. My relationship with nuns in horror is one that has seen some twists and turns. I think the implementation of religion into horror is beautiful when done well, but unfortunately cringe-worthy in most cases. Immaculate both surprised and delighted me with its approach to religious horror.

Synopsis of Immaculate

Mohan’s Immaculate (2024) follows Cecilia, a young American nun, who travels to an Italian convent to take her vows. However, all is not as it seems, as nightmares and tragedies begin to befall her. Despite being a virginal novitiate, Cecilia falls pregnant, and is branded the next Virgin Mary. The further her pregnancy develops, the more Cecilia realises there may be no escape from her new fate.

Analysis of Immaculate

Shock Horror

The gory SFX of Immaculate are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. None of the scenes of violence feel forced or unnecessary, something rare in horror featuring female leads. The opening scene’s leg snap is horrifying, and Sweeney’s fingernail peeling is vomit-inducing. Mohan chooses his moments for skin-crawling gore very carefully, and the payoff is massive.

These explicitly bloody scenes contrast the religious imagery of crosses and chapels so well, adding to the film’s overall messages about Christianity. I believe the films conveys a sense of religion as entrapment, and something that takes advantage of those who are most vulnerable. Putting a young, pregnant woman who has suffered a serious trauma at the heart of this story hammers home the message of the church’s wrongdoings.

The Horror of Nuns

Looming matriarchal figures are often the subjects of horror. Between the strict rules they enforce, and the power that they hold, it’s no surprise that nuns have become a staple in modern horror. Unlike many films that take an evil, supernatural route, Immaculate explores the horrors of the ordinary human mind, instead.

The nuns in this movie don’t feel over-played or exaggerated. I think this is the perfect way to work religious issues into horror films. The church has been known to turn a blind eye to all kinds of suffering in order to promote their own agenda. Immaculate shows this brilliantly.

What We Don’t See

Some of the horror of Immaculate does in fact come from what they don’t show us. There are many implied horrors, such as the baby Cecilia births, the things done to other girls who misbehave, and more. Having this ‘unseen’ element creates a whole other layer of fear. It adds something that can’t be done as effectively through dialogue or visuals – the unknown. This, for horror viewers, is something that takes a movie from good to great.

Any film that uses its audience’s own imagination as a tool for scares is one that deserves recognition. Immaculate prompts you to fill in the blanks of certain aspects yourself. I think this is really effective in terms of the film’s overall themes, as well. Not knowing the true horrors that have come of this religious doing leaves you with a sense of wanting to see, but not wanting to see. Will it be too grotesque for even the most seasoned horror fans? We’ll never know. I think there’s a true beauty in that.

Summary of Immaculate

Overall, Mohan’s Immaculate has some truly great acting performances, accompanied by a thrilling story and well-made effects. I think the film was successful in its attempts to scare, gross out and make it’s audience think. This is one of the best nun-centric horror movies I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s safe to say it has revived my love for the specific sub-genre.