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Movie Review: 'Immaculate' Starring Sydney Sweeney

Sydney Sweeney stars in an excellent horror thriller, Immaculate.

By Sean PatrickPublished 20 days ago 4 min read
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Immaculate (2024)

Directed by Michael Mohan

Written by Andrew Lobel

Starring Sydney Sweeney, Alvaro Morte

Release Date March 22nd, 2024

Published March 26th, 2024

Great directors know that all aspects of filmmaking matter. The best directors get involved in as many aspects of filmmaking as they can. The script, the aesthetic, the music, the sound, it's all important to creating a truly great movie. First time director Michael Mohan demonstrates control over all aspects of filmmaking in his exceptional debut feature, Immaculate. The story of a Nun who is tricked into moving to Italy and into an ancient nunnery with a deep, dark, secret, Immaculate uses the tools of filmmaking exceptionally well. Most notably, the film's impeccable sound design which puts the horror in your head in an inescapable fashion.

Immaculate stars Sydney Sweeney as Sister Cecilia. At the age of 8, Cecilia fell through the ice in her hometown and nearly died. From that day, she dedicated herself to God and the search to find the reason God spared her. Now a nun, Sister Cecilia has recently lost her home convent in Detroit, Michigan. Fate however, has intervened on her behalf as just as she was looking for a place to continue her path with God, Father Sal Tedeschi (Alvaro Morte), found her and offered her a place in an ancient Italian convent.

This particular convent serves a very important purpose. The nuns here administer to elderly nuns in hospice. It will be Sister Cecilia's job to help make her sisters comfortable as they reach the end of their lives. At least, that's what the job is supposed to be. Unfortunately, shortly after her arrival in Italy, Sister Cecilia falls ill. The illness takes hold and is a complete mystery until it is revealed that Sister Cecilia is pregnant. This comes as a shock to all as Cecilia is unquestionably a virgin. This leads her fellow Nuns and Father Sal to claim that she is undergoing a miraculous Virgin birth.

Plot mechanics tell you that not all is as it appears. There is a sinister element of Immaculate that we are aware of from the start of the film but that is kept from Sister Cecilia. The film opens with a terrifying sequence as a young Nun is attempting to escape from the convent. As she is just about to slip through a gate, a group of Nuns in terrifying, faceless masks capture her. I will leave you to see the movie to see what happens next. I will only say that it took my breath away for a moment. It's a terrific sequence and sets up the rest of Immaculate incredibly well.

This opening sequence sets the tone for a movie that has some of the best sound design of any horror movie in recent memory. Director Michael Mohan and the sound team behind Immaculate use sound to place the horror in your mind. While you try and hide behind your fingers, the scares are in your head because you can hear it all in crisp, clear, and detailed sound. I especially loved how the film underscores perfectly the way sound seems louder in the dark. Have you ever noticed that? Any time you are trying to stay quiet at night, in darkness, and not wake people up, sound in the room gets so much louder. That's just our perception of it, but it feels true and the makers of Immaculate use that amp up tension in a number of terrific scenes.

Star Sydney Sweeney is fantastic in Immaculate. Never over-playing Sister Cecilia as a naive waif, Sweeney doesn't so much make Cecilia worldly. Rather, she captures the instinctive intelligence that drives this character and, by extension, drives this plot. She senses the danger that she is in and while she may not have the ingrained paranoia of your average American, she demonstrates good instincts once the plot makes clear what is really happening. Sweeney's bright, wide, expressive eyes are perfectly suited for this performance, communicating more with a look than with words.

Immaculate is an excellent horror movie. Even as it carries a familiar setting, a sinister religious organization is not a new frontier, the movie takes the well worn tropes and elevates them with strong aesthetics, incredible use of sound, and a terrific lead performance. All of this builds toward a final act that moves at an incredible pace, amping up the tension and tightening the grip on the audience until a cathartic and horror filled finale. It's a great sequence and ties a perfect bow on this excellent horror thrill ride.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing here on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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