‘Immaculate’ Review: Sydney Sweeney Shines in Truly Twisted & Refreshingly Ballsy Horror Flick

Scott Menzel, says Sydney Sweeney shines in Immaculate, a truly twisted and refreshingly ballsy horror thriller.
User Rating: 8

Over the past several years, Sydney Sweeney has been a rising star in Hollywood. If you have been following her journey, you probably heard about Immaculate, a nun-themed horror project she auditioned for years ago but never became a reality. Sweeney wanted to be part of this film so badly that she obtained the rights and produced it under her production company, Fifty-Fifty Films. Joining her for this wild ride was filmmaker Michael Mohan (Everything Sucks) and writer Andrew Lobel (Mysteries Unknown). Immaculate had its world premiere at SXSW, where I was lucky enough to watch it.

Immaculate is a horror film that doubles as a religious mystery thriller with plenty of commentary about women and their bodies. The premise for the film is relatively simple: Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) relocates to a parish in Italy after the one she previously served at closes down. Upon her arrival, Cecilia meets another nun named Gwen (Benedetta Porcaroli), with whom she develops a friendship. As Cecilia begins to settle down in her new life, strange things happen around her. Disturbed by what she is seeing, Cecilia starts having nightmares, only to wake up and discover that her nightmares are not dreams but reality.

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Michael Mohan, who has worked with Sydney Sweeney on three very different projects over the past six years, is a filmmaker who doesn’t like to stay in one lane and likes to dabble in various genres. He seems drawn to projects that make audiences think and question their morals and behavior. Immaculate might be his best outing because he explores several subjects in one film. He knows how to create and build upon tense situations while having an eye for detail regarding the look and feel of each project. Immaculate is a gorgeous film that kept me on edge the entire time. It made me uncomfortable, and yet I couldn’t look away. This film’s craftwork is terrific, especially the haunting score and the stunning cinematography. Those elements, alongside Mohan’s pitch-perfect direction, sucked me into this creepy and twisted world.

Sydney Sweeney continues to impress as an actress. In such a short time, Sweeney has been a part of several hit television series, including Euphoria, The White Lotus, and Sharp Objects, as well as an incredible HBO TV Movie with Reality and Anyone But You, which was a box office juggernaut. Her performance as Cecilia is very demanding. It is an emotional and physical performance in which the entire plot relies on her to convey that to the audience. Sweeney nails this performance, and, as many have stated after the SXSW premiere, she earns the right to be labeled a scream queen. What stands out about her performance is that it feels unlike anything she has ever done, filled with depth, anger, and passion. Sweeney dominates the screen and delivers her best and most complex performance yet.

Immaculate goes places you don’t expect it to go. The ending will undoubtedly turn A LOT of people off. Still, I applaud Mohan, Lobel, and Sweeney for not being afraid to push the limits of moviegoers regardless of whether they lose some people in the process. While I would never label this film as “sexy,” I can see how its exploration of sexuality might also be a turn-off to some viewers. Many themes explored within Immaculate make it much more than your typical horror film fare. These qualities must have been what Sweeney was drawn to when reading the script many years prior because the ending and these themes definitely leave a long-lasting impression.

Horror continues to be a genre that pushes boundaries and challenges audiences while making them squirm in their seats. Immaculate will keep audiences on edge, while its ballsy premise is likely to divide them. I will say that I dig indie horror films like Immaculate because, unlike Beau is Afraid and Possessor, the film isn’t pretentious and fun to watch, even if you might not like the explored themes and topics.

I look forward to seeing what Sweeney and Mohan do next. They are a dynamic duo that is worth keeping an eye on.

Immaculate opens in theaters on March 22, 2024.

Summary
Immaculate goes places you don't expect it to go. The ending will undoubtedly turn A LOT of people off. Still, I applaud Mohan, Lobel, and Sweeney for not being afraid to push the limits of moviegoers regardless of whether they lose some people in the process. Sweeney dominates the screen and delivers her best and most complex performance yet. 
8
Great
Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott Menzel has been watching film and television since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by the films of Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associate's Degree in Marketing, a Bachelor's in Mass Media, Communications, and a Master's in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at IMDB.com and Joblo.com. In 2009, Scott launched MovieManMenzel.com where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live Film.com. In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name change occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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