Immaculate (2024) Movie Review - Watchable Religious Horror

Horror | 89 Min
Cover from Sydney Sweeney's horror movie Immaculate (2024)
  • Director: Michael Mohan
  • Actors: Sydney Sweeney, Álvaro Morte, Benedetta Porcaroli, Dora Romano, Giorgio Colangeli, Simona Tabasco
  • Writers: Andrew Lobel
  • Producers: David Bernad, Sydney Sweeney, Jonathan Davino, Teddy Schwarzman, Michael Heimler
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English, Italian
  • Parental: Violence, Gore, Female Nudity, Violence To Children, Violence To Animals, Religious Themes, Upsetting Scenes
  • Horror | 89 Min

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.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our review of religious horror movie Immaculate from 2024. I have been catching up on some recent horror, as of late, and this one was next on the list… Or was it The First Omen? I’m not sure.. I was planning to watch a movie about an American woman moving to a convent in Italy.. Only to realise that the supposedly pious people there are hiding something horrifically sinister.

It just so happens to be that both of these movies have exactly the same plot. In fact, the synopsis for one could easily be used for the other without a hint of inaccuracy. I remember a time when this kind of thing was fairly common. Movies would release within short periods of each other with almost identical plots. They were referred to as Twin Films, I believe? Remember The Cave and The Descent? We can even throw The Cavern in to make things really cosy. Immaculate and The First Omen released within a month of each other.

Sydney Sweeney Pet Project

Sydney Sweeney is a name I have been hearing a lot, recently. To be perfectly honest, I don’t watch anything other than horror movies so I had no clue who she was outside of “she has big boobs and people on Twitter talk about her”. While the former point is most definitely true and clearly on display at multiple points in Immaculate. It also turns out that she is a pretty decent actor and has a fair bit of sway in the movie making world. As evidenced by her bringing Immaculate to life.

A screenshot from Sydney Sweeney's horror movie Immaculate (2024)

After originally auditioning for a role in the movie back when she was 17. The project was ditched and, as it does, time moved on. Fast forward to a few years back and the much more well known Sydney Sweeney revived the movie under her fifty-fifty film production company. Signing on Michael Mohan to direct and adopting the leading role. The movie was brought back to life and here we are today.  

Immaculate follows the story of young nun Sister Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney). Cecilia moves to a convent in Italy to work for the Church. After nearly dying at a young age, Cecilia turned to God and has been searching for her life’s purpose ever since. After a short while at the Convent. It becomes clear that the idyllic appearance of the place and the people within it may just be a front. As something incredibly sinister hides under the surface.

Run of the Mill Religious Horror

Immaculate is a fairly “by the numbers” religious horror for most of its length. You have seen this all before in every other horror movie that focuses on Catholicism, and the church, hiding something evil. It starts off slow with Cecilia engaging in every day chores and tasks at the convent. Before giving us just a little hint at something more seedy hiding under the sheets.

It’s familiar and fairly predictable. The slow burn first half does a nice job of drawing you in. And an opening scene that reveals a little of the horrifying history of the convent gives you something to keep digging for. But there isn’t a tremendous amount to write home about. It’s simply plain old religious horror with all of the usual trappings of the genre.

A screenshot from Sydney Sweeney's horror movie Immaculate (2024)

Catholic iconography pushes along the narrative. With references to Stigmata and the cross acting as suitably brutal hints at what is to come later on. But there isn’t really anything new here. Cecilia is a likable character played fantastically by Sweeney and some of the other nuns, Sister Gwen (Benedetta Porcaroli) in particular, add some levity to the otherwise serious plot. But it is nothing that you haven’t seen before.

Then Simply a Horror

When things get going, the religious mask starts to slip a little and we see that this is, simply, a fairly standard horror movie. Whereas most religious horror movies go deep into the themes of religion and the conclusion is very much grounded in said themes. Immaculate kind of pushes that to one side and transforms into a normal horror movie with a very familiar villain. Albeit a gory one with some genuinely shocking moments.

A screenshot from Sydney Sweeney's horror movie Immaculate (2024)

Jump scares abound and a drawn out game of cat and mouse takes place. Making this feel less like a religious horror and more just a horror movie set in a convent. The constricting nature of Cecilia’s environment plays second fiddle to the whims of old school style horror movie villains with nefarious intentions. The initial reasoning for why Cecilia finds herself in the situation she does seems unimportant. As it suddenly becomes less about matters of the church and more about the matters of insane people. 

A big consequence of this is that the movie becomes very predictable. You know what is going to happen next. You know what to expect and you know when to expect it. It is hard to shake the feeling that Immaculate loses its way somewhere along the line. Forgetting what it wanted to be and becoming something altogether ordinary.

Still Very Watchable

Despite those observations. This is still a very watchable and enjoyable horror movie. It’s gory, violent, and, ultimately, a lot of fun in parts. The last half is much less deep than the first but horror fans will likely appreciate some of the more gruesome kills and enjoy the traditional horror pacing. Sydney Sweeney is fantastic, as Cecilia, as well so makes for an easy to like protagonist.

I do have to criticise some of the image quality, in this movie. Although cinematography is, generally, great with some fantastic scenes very much worthy of note and a distinct aesthetic nod to European cinema of the 70s. This movie is dull. And when I say dull I mean “strain your eyes” dull. I never want a movie to force me to check my well calibrated television settings but this did.

A screenshot from Sydney Sweeney's horror movie Immaculate (2024)

It should be noted that there are a few shocking moments here and there that some may not appreciate. Immaculate could be taken as a commentary on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Especially in the wake of some of the farcical events in America over the past year or so. And director Michael Mohan is keen to, at least, stoke the fires on that point in gruesome fashion. Sweeney’s committed performance makes scenes that pertain to this all the more shocking and effective. Making for a powerful, blood soaked, middle finger to the right wing.

Should You Watch Immaculate?

If you are looking for a gory horror movie with some great kills and a likable protagonist, you should definitely watch Immaculate. It’s not as deep as the religious themes suggest and it loses its way a little somewhere in the middle. But there is still lots to like here including a fantastic performance from Sydney Sweeney. It is shocking in parts and maybe over eggs the pudding here and there but Immaculate is still a lot of fun. 

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