Film Review: Immaculate – 8/10

‘God saved me for a reason…’

Sydney Sweeney is having a moment right now. If you can be so closely associated with Madame Web and still escape from that debacle unscathed you must be doing something right. Sweeney auditioned for a role in Immaculate as a teenager and didn’t get the part and the film subsequently went into development hell. In the intervening years, Sweeney has become a massive star since that rejection but she never forgot Immaculate. The fact that she has returned not just as the star but also as producer is a testament to her tenacity but also to her ability to choose her roles carefully…

Cecilia (Sweeney) leaves small-town America to become a nun at a prestigious convent in the Italian countryside. She arrives to find herself in competition with the ultra-devout Sister Isabelle (Giulia Heathfield Di Renzi) and in a friendship with wild card Sister Gwen (Benedetta Poraroli). As Cecilia makes her through the heavy shadows of the convent with only a candle to light the way, it soon becomes clear that something strange is happening.

Director Michael Mohan (who also directed Sweeney in The Voyeurs) wears his influences on his sleeve here. Rosemary’s Baby and particularly Suspiria both loom large here. Luckily, Sweeney’s show-stopping performance and Mohan’s bravery in making this a proper R-rated horror film elevate Immaculate into something atmospheric and emotionally affecting. This is also the rare horror film where the destination matches the journey. That final shot… wowsers. It’s a beauty. It’s reminiscent of the ending of Midsommar in fact. Horror fans will love it.

Immaculate is a smart, daring and provocative horror film. As a victim of a Catholic upbringing myself I found moments here to be genuinely transgressive. This could be the film that announces Sweeney as a scream queen. Right now, she has the world at her feet,