Immaculate Review

Immaculate is a mostly standard horror flick, but the wild ending and terrific performance by Sydney Sweeney elevates it.

PLOT: A young nun (Sydney Sweeney) accepts a position at a secluded convent in Italy. While there, she mysteriously becomes pregnant, despite being a virgin, and soon the convent becomes convinced she’s carrying the resurrection of Christ. However, something much more sinister might be happening.

REVIEW: For most of its running time, Immaculate is a decent throwback to Dario Argento-style Italian horror movies, with it getting a lot of mileage out of its picturesque Italian scenery and cast of old pro actors from the region. It’s a slow-burn and not particularly scary, but it builds up to an incredibly strong final scene, which is good enough that it really makes the entire film worth seeing just for the superb payoff. 

Too bad then that the eighty-minute build-up to the dazzling final sequence is such a mixed bag, with it really feeling like the writer, Andrew Lobell, and director, Michael Mohan, conceived of the final scene on its own and had to figure out a way to build a movie around it. The whole film feels like almost an afterthought to a moment that will undoubtedly inspire a lot of talk about how provocative it is.

immaculate sydney Sweeney

As such, Immaculate is, for most of its running time, little more than a passable horror flick, although it’s distinguished by its excellent cinematography from Elisha Christian and a terrific lead performance from Sydney Sweeney. Some may raise their eyebrows at that last part, but the fact is she’s actually always been quite good. Her acting in Euphoria has always been powerful; she was great in The White Lotus and terrific in the little-seen HBO movie Reality

Some folks seem distracted by her undeniable sex appeal, which the movie uses to its advantage. Sister Cecilia is supposed to be an unlikely nun, with the Italian authorities at customs drooling over her and her fellow nuns looking at her with disbelief when she walks into their remote church. Yet, Sweeney is able to evoke the character’s conviction and unshakeable faith perfectly, and the film wouldn’t work as well as it does without her.

Of course, it all builds up to that amazing final scene, which seems to have been partly inspired by Andrzej Żuławski’s classic Possession, with how thoroughly Sweeney evokes her character’s complete breakdown in a single, unbroken shot that’s reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani’s Paris metro breakdown in that wild 1981 flick. It ends Immaculate on such a wild note that it becomes understandable why this is a Neon release rather than a mainstream studio one, as the finale would have never made it past a roomful of execs.

Director Michael Mohan (who previously directed Sweeney in The Voyeurs) deserves credit for letting the finale play out, but again, there’s a lot of movie to get through before it finally happens, and the rest of the film isn’t as compelling. For one thing, it’s not especially scary despite some good gore and a brutal scene where someone loses a tongue. It’s heavy on atmosphere in a way that pays homage to Argento, but it still could have used a couple of big grand guignol moments earlier on. It takes an awfully long time to get going. 

It should also be said that none of the characters except Sydney’s make much of an impression, with Money Heist star Álvaro Morte too obvious of a red herring as the church’s priest. The only one who makes much of an impression is Benedetta Porcaroli as a streetwise noviciate, who finds the idea that Sweeney’s carrying the son of God a little tough to swallow.

But, even still, that ending is dazzling. Without it, Immaculate is probably a 5 or a 6, but the ending kicks it up a major notch; thus, it gets a much higher recommendation than it would otherwise. 

Saw X director Kevin Greutert helped Immaculate director Michael Mohan get thrills out of a scene that wasn't working




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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.