Immaculate REVIEW – Not Quite Heavenly

Immaculate movie
Immaculate movie

Immaculate’s biggest downfall and strength is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The movie somewhat feels like Malignant or M3GAN, where it takes a silly premise, plays it straight, and derives comedy from just how straight it plays said premise. The big difference is that Immaculate isn’t a comedy. Rather, it’s more concerned with being fun than funny, and the result is a mad mix of elements both arthouse and grindhouse that doesn’t quite reach its full potential.

Immaculate follows a young American woman named Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) who becomes a nun and joins an exclusive convent in Italy. At first, she has trouble fitting in, but everything changes when she discovers that she’s pregnant, despite being chaste even before she moved to Italy. Everyone around her is convinced this was God’s doing, but the more her pregnancy goes on, the more Cecilia is convinced that something strange is going on in this convent, and terrible things might happen if she doesn’t leave soon.

The movie begins with an unnamed nun trying to escape the convent but gets caught and buried alive by the other nuns, and while this scene does set the mood for the camp that what we’re about to see, it also feels like a spoiler of sorts. Right away, we know this convent is sinister and evil, so a lot of the suspense in the first and second acts is gone. The mystery would’ve been more effective had we fully been in Cecilia’s shoes, questioning this convent the more time we spent there without any knowledge of what happened before.

When Cecilia finds out she’s pregnant, too, the film becomes almost disinterested in what she’s feeling or thinking. Cecilia is not only pregnant without sin, she’s pregnant with what everyone around her believes is the second coming of Christ. She must be drowning in an ocean of emotions and thoughts, and yet, all we’re privy to throughout this period of her life is a small cry and her being aloof and distant from the people around her.

Clocking in at only 90 minutes, Immaculate is a short film, so the filmmakers were probably less interested in a strong character study for Cecilia and more interested in getting to the carnage and gore. In this regard, Immaculate delivers, even if it comes at the cost of a smoother transition for Cecilia and her eventual unhinged state.

The amount of visceral and bloody imagery juxtaposed with the beautiful and even serene cinematography makes for some enjoyable horror scenes, and the climax especially is sure to go down in cult horror history. The film is at its best once its big mystery is solved and both Cecilia and the audience know what’s going on behind closed doors in the convent.

Once this happens, the movie fully embraces its wild side and Sydney Sweeney gets to show off just how fit she is to be a horror star. Sweeney gives such a captivating performance as both the quiet Cecilia and vengeful Cecilia that the film wouldn’t have been nearly as engrossing had a different actress been in the lead role.

It also can’t be said enough just how beautiful this film looks. I was reminded of The Exorcist’s cinematic re-release back in 2023, and a new release reminding you visually of a modern-day Exorcist is nothing short of a compliment. Several scenes could be postcards, especially for dark and gothic photography lovers.

Unfortunately, Immaculate is a tad too comfortable with its B-movie nature that it passes the opportunity to be truly all that memorable. While you’ll have a blast watching this film, nothing here will really stick with you after watching it, and even Sweeney’s performance can’t make up for the shallow character writing of Cecilia. Immaculate has great things in it, but the end result is far from immaculate.

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Immaculate movie
Verdict
It’s both gorgeous and fun, and Sweeney Sydney further elevates herself as a rising star, but Immaculate would have benefited from a lengthier runtime and more in-depth writing.
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