Movie Reviews

Immaculate Review: Far From Pure Horror, But Sydney Sweeney Shines Again

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but I am almost 100% convinced that Sidney Sweeney will take over the world someday. For several months now, I’ve been seeing her everywhere on the internet, from the news sites to social media. And yet, it is not enough to be the most talked about actress in the world, and certainly one of the sexiest among them. To be worthy of the honor of starring on our site, Sidney Sweeney needs to make enough horror movies. Not long ago, we wrote about horror films in her career. We saw that these are mainly films she made in the early stages of her career, most of which are primarily insignificant and unknown.

“Immaculate” certainly tries to change that: as you will see in the next review, is an enjoyable film, even if it has many flaws, obviously. Moreover, after Sweeney was doubted following “Anyone But You” (in which she mainly showed her body and not impressive acting skills. According to my wife, since I don’t watch romantic comedies) and the massive failure of “Madame Web,” she proves that she is an excellent actress. If she continues like this and chooses more horror movies, she may become a full-fledged Scream Queen.

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How Immaculate Was Born?

In recent months, I discovered that Sweeney is a great promoter. The campaign around “Immaculate” focused, to a large extent, on her character and personality. We saw a video where she ranked her favorite horror movies with some excellent arguments. In another video, she tried to identify iconic screams from horror movies, and did a pretty good job in my opinion. Sweeney has talked about her love of horror movies, which she inherited from her father, and even once dressed up as the Grady twins from “The Shining.” All this to get a place of honor on our website, and perhaps also to try to promote “Immaculate,” which she was also one of the producers of wthin the Fifty Fifty company she manages.

“Immaculate” was directed by Michael Mohan, who already directed Sweeney in “The Voyeurs”, a solid erotic thriller. According to report,s Sweeney did everything to make this movie happen. About a decade ago, when she was still relatively unknown, she auditioned for a horror film that takes place in a monastery in Ireland, where she realizes that the monastery staff is very interested in her body (could it be related to leprechauns?).

Although that film never came alive, Sweeney kept the general idea on the mind. She purchased the script, chose the director she had already worked with and added to the team other professionals who had accompanied us on television or in the cinema, such as producer David Bernard, with whom she collaborated on “The White Lotus”.

Sydney Sweeney shines in Immaculate
The woman behinf the project. Sydney Sweeney (photos: Neon)

What Is The Plot Of Immaculate?

“Immaculate” takes place in a Convent in a pastoral area in Italy, where the nun Cecilia (Sweeney) arrives. Cecilia became a nun after an incident from her childhood, in which she drowned in a lake and experienced clinical death. She realized that God had saved her for a specific purpose and put on the clothes of a nun. The problem is that in the convent, under the management of Father Tedeschi (Álvaro Morte, “The Professor” from “Money Heist”), things are not as they seem: the convent is meant to accompany old, sick or demented nuns in the later stages of their lives, but it is the younger nuns who are the ones who the convent is interested in them.

There are several supporting characters here, some more developed and others less so, played by Italian actors who are mostly unknown to the Western viewer: like the sympathetic nun who doesn’t speak English (Dora Romano), the nun who tries to expose the conspiracy but is punished (Benedetta Porcaroli, from Netflix’s “Baby”), The Jealous Nun (Giulia Hattenfield Di Renzi) and more.

The viewer understands this already in the opening scene, in which a nun tries to escape but is captured and become trapped a coffin while she is alive. Cecilia discovers, for example, strange marks on the feet of some of the nuns. Then, one fine day, Cecilia suffers from strange symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and a tooth falling out. The convent staff examines her and discovers that she is pregnant despite being a virgin. At first, it looks like a biologically impossible situation, as far as I know, even if Sweeney may be so sexy that she could get pregnant without having sex, or perhaps by the Holy Spirit.

Cecilia becomes a saint, but the thing about saints is that they can be Martyrs. She will suffer harassment attempts by some of the nuns out of jealousy that maybe she is “the one,” and also the convent staff after she begins to reveal the rather bizarre acts that take place there and are possibly related to the nail. From my limited medical knowledge, the plot in the film’s second part is strange, but I am not a geneticist or an expert on Christianity.

immaculate photo from the movie
An uneasy life. Sydney Sweeney in Immaculte (photo: Neon)

Objectification Of The Female Body, The Religion Versions

“Immaculate” includes some very positive points. The cinematography does the job and creates the creepy atmosphere that we expect in films of this type, partly with the help of the correct use of depth of field, asymmetry, and contrast, for example, between dark and light. The photography creates a feeling that secrets here are just waiting to be discovered, contributing to the film’s progress. On the negative side, some scenes here are too busy, which may tire some viewers. One of the reasons is that the soundtrack does not always serve the film and sometimes hurts my eyes (or my ears) a bit during the viewing experience.

The atmosphere is gloomy and cold, but to some extent also hot, thanks to the fact that here, too, in nun’s clothes, Sweeney (and some of the other nuns) may succeed in fulfilling the wet dream, literally, of some men: because what could be hotter than two nuns, In a transparent shirt, getting beaten up in the bath? Hell, without checking, I’m almost convinced there’s some porn movie that started like that once upon a time.

Objectification of the human body. from Immaculate (photo by Neon)
Objectification of the human body. from Immaculate (photo: Neon)

Critics will say that Sweeney’s body undergoes an inevitable objectification that could have been avoided. In my opinion, these scenes correspond with one of the main themes of the film, which is the objectification of the female body, the institutional control over the female body, and its transformation into a tool by the male religious institution. Horror fans will note that we are once again getting a film about creepy nuns, perhaps following the success of the “The Nun” films, which have contributed to the renaissance of nuns in the genre in recent years.

The Nun II Costumes

Immaculate Review: Unpure Horror, But Effective At Times

It’s hard to say that “Immaculate” is a scary movie. There are reasonable jump scares versus ones that are too worn out, and some suspenseful scenes versus ones that seem a bit casual. The film is far from inventing the wheel, and you will find references to other films dealing with the subject of religious paranoia – for example, “Rosemary’s Baby” or “The Omen.” Certain parts of the film reminded me of Ari Aster’s works, such as “Midsommer” (which is unsurprising, given that Sweeney has already mentioned that he is one of her favorite horror directors). At other times, the film showed elements that corresponded to the Italian Giallo films, like Dario Argento’s works.

In other words, although “Immaculate” suffers from various failures at the plot level, the pace, or the scares, it seems that the people behind it know the job and the playing field they are operating in.

The film takes itself seriously, maybe even too seriously. I’m also writing this as an inevitable criticism: there were parts where the heavy atmosphere is less suitable for what you see on the screen, and a little humor could have brought us closer to the film or the characters.

“Immaculate” takes time to get into things. Although, to some extent, it is built like a Polanski horror thriller, with thousands of differences, the viewer only partially accompanies Cecilia on her journey to understand the horror that surrounds her. It happens at some point and could have happened earlier. The better scenes of “Immaculate,” in my opinion, are the ones where Sweeney kills some of the convent people with some holy items, which might say something theoretical and profound about religion.

Some pretty good scenes depict Sweeney’s attempt to escape from the convent, including one with a dead chicken, which may be saying something metaphorical about religion. The film presents the dark sides of religion and questions the limits of belief in religion, messiahship, prophecy, and the relationship between religion and science. He also raises questions about the male use of the female body, in this context, apparently for pleasing God.

In the bottom line, “Immaculate” is far from a balanced movie, and I also mean integrating these theoretical ideas in the overall mix. Like many films from recent years, it raises more questions than it provides answers. The film will not accompany you for weeks and likely will not be the source of too many cinematic theses, but it does raise some points for thought.

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How Is Sydney Sweeney In Immaculate?

Above all, “Immaculate” is a horror film by Sidney Sweeney. She does a wonderful job in it, literally, and manages to convey to the viewer her character’s fear. It doesn’t always work, mainly because the dialogues are problematic in some cases and quite few compared to a standard film, but Sweeney is doing more than the maximum she has to work with. On the one hand, she is fragile and vulnerable, conveyed by her appearance and even her voice. On the other hand, she can be harsh and dramatic. The performance is sometimes uneven, either because Sweeney is not perfect (yet) as an actress or because of a specific weakness in character building or dialogue. Still, there is no doubt that this is an improved result compared to most of the horror films we see.

Without spoilers, the final scene is an outstanding acting performance by Sweeney, although some may find it a bit “scrappy” and unrealistic (as realistic as what’s happening on the screen can be). Without spiolers, the scene also connects us to the same promotional video of the film in which she tries to identify iconic screams from the cinema, showing that the film’s marketing certainly knew what to direct us to. Sweeney’s performance and the result we see – by the way, we see on the screen here the first take they didwill not surely become iconic like some of the famous screaming characters in the cinema, but it is undoubtedly dominant and impressive.

Sydney Sweeney scareams in Immaculate
A scream queen is born? Sydney Sweeney in Immaculate (photo: Neon)

“Immaculate” reviews were neutral to positive. With profits of about 24 million dollars (the budget was about 9 million), pretty much like most “Immaculate” box office predictions, it is hard to say that it was an extraordinary success, nor a fialure. Certainly if you compare it to “Anyone But Yoy” by the same Sweeney, which became a hysterical success with about 220 million dollars worldwide. But generally speaking, the numbers are not bad at all. “Immaculate” was distributed by award-winning Neon Films and had the most successful opening of the company’s films.

Plus, it shows that Sidney Sweeney is here to stay and maybe even do more horror movies on her way to being a scream queen. It’s a very important step in her journey to take over the world.

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