Immaculate (Paul Mohan, 2024, Italy/USA)

Immaculate is the latest collaboration between actress Sidney Sweeney and director Michael Mohan after the 2021 erotic thriller The Voyeurs. Sweeney, who is no stranger to horror (one of her first roles was in John Carpenter's 2010 film The Ward) also served as co-producer on Immaculate. The film takes on familiar tropes of religious horror, and stars Sweeney as an American nun named Cecilia who is recruited to join a convent in Italy by Father Sal Tedeschi (Alvaro Morte). Quickly it becomes apparent that not all is as it seems at the convent, and this chapter of the film bears resemblance to the ballet school of Argento's Suspiria.

These strange happenings come to a head when Cecilia finds herself pregnant with a "virgin" birth. From this point on, the story bears many echoes of Rosemary's Baby. Increasingly, it seems that Cecilia is under lock and key. Benedetta Porcaroli, the Italian actress featured on the Netflix series Baby, plays another nun who begins questioning the situation and then disappears. When the film reaches its finale, we are well ready to buy into the events that are unfolding.

Immaculate is by no means a masterful piece of horror filmmaking, but it does tap into the very primal sense of losing control of one's body, and Sweeney delivers a credible performance. While the film has been noted for its thematic resonance, it succeeds precisely because it doesn't attempt to be too intellectual - when it delivers, particularly in the film's brutal finale, it delivers on a gut or primal level. The film is very much a reinvention of standard horror tropes and echoes the height of 70s Euro nunsploitation films. The Mohan-Sweeney collaboration has so far yielded good results, and it will be interesting to see if the two work together in the future.



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