Sunday, March 24, 2024

Immaculate - Movie Review

The Movie: Immaculate

The Director: Michael Mohan

The Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Simona Tabasco, Álvaro Morte, Benedetta Porcaroli

The Story: Cecilia, a woman of devout faith, is warmly welcomed to the picture-perfect Italian countryside where she is offered a new role at an illustrious convent. But it becomes clear to Cecilia that her new home harbors dark and horrifying secrets.

The Rating: 8 / 10

The Review:
After watching this movie, it made me think which is scarier, the story as it plays out in this movie or Catholicism and other organized religions that are out there in the world today. I'm thinking the answer will depend on a person's experience with and perception of each option although for my part, I feel like the latter is scarier because the former is more up front and honest about its portrayal. Director Michael Mohan and writer Andrew Lobel don't pull any punches in creating a horror movie that defies convention and shocks you with harsh truths.

Yes, this movie digs deep into how entrenched people are in their faith and how it can lead to blind fanatacism and a systemic belief system that can carry on for generations. As human beings, I like to believe that we all have good intentions and we all have the ability to want the best for everyone although how we are raised, how we are taught, and what information is provided to us, especially in our most formative years, can and does shape our realities in very specific ways.

What the fillmmakers do with this movie is show how these systems can lead people down a darker path because of having such a deep immersion and indoctrination into what is really a very narrowed down and often overly specified version of reality. There's also a lot of intent in criticizing the Catholic church specifically with both subtle and not so subtle references to things the church and its members (especially its leadership) have actually been known for. There are things that are talked about in the movie and also in just how the story itself plays out that make it pretty easy to see why some people are calling it sacreligious and evil. For my part, that just means maybe it's hitting the mark a little too close for some people to accept or acknowledge.

Anyway, that conversation can expand and explode to no end with probably no easy conclusion so let's just get back to the movie and is it any good. The simple answer to that is absolutely yes. As a horror movie, it is highly effective with lots of legitimate jump scares, plenty of blood splattered all over the place, and an undercurrent of dread and inevitability that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The filmmakers flirt with fantastical elements that are also in place to keep you guessing which I thought made the third act even more impactful.

The story is also quite unpredictable which is rare both within the horror genre and in cinema as a whole so, for me, that's where this movie really sets itself apart. Horror movies in general have become so prevalant in the movie going landscape that it feels harder and harder to come up with something that is original, engaging, and truly scary. Hollywood finally realized these movies can be made cheap and churned out like an assembly line product so the genre has unfortunately been watered down lately although movies like this one are still able to hit theaters thanks to studios like Neon who is handling US distribution for this film.

I love the fact that Sydney Sweeney took on this particular project and it's being released right as she is hitting that tipping point of Hollywood (over)exposure and, in some people's eyes, she's seen simply as the latest representation of the classic, blonde and busty on-screen sex object. Her being the face and literal poster child for a movie like this is a hard left turn from that and exactly what she needed, especially right after the Madame Web dumpster fire. What has gotten lost in the hype of her rising stardom is the fact that she is a legitimately great actress. Have you seen her in Euphoria?

As this movie dives headfirst into its final, mind blowing moments, Sweeney steps up her game even more and delivers an ending that will be remembered and talked about for quite some time. I'm not sure if "Final Girl" or "Scream Queen" are appropriate titles to offer her based on this performance, they just don't feel like they are enough to properly honor and label what she accomplishes. Part of it is the context of the story and how it plays out and part of it is how next level she went, especially in the film's final moments. I'm not going to explain that here, you just have to see it for yourself.

Okay, so after all that. Should you see this movie? Absolutely yes. Horror fans, this is a must see. Sydney Sweeney fans, if you don't see this movie, just turn in your fan club membership card now. Finally, if you are someone who may be offended by what this movie is about. Go see it. Be offended and then consider why you're offended and also consider why this type of story needs to be told.

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