Sydney Sweeney’s debut into the horror genre with “Immaculate” is interesting, to say the least. The film follows Cecelia, played by Sweeney, as she joins an Italian convent. From the outset, the convent’s eerie atmosphere is established when a young woman’s escape attempt is brutally thwarted by shadowy nuns.

Once Cecelia arrives at the convent, she must recite vows for the church. After doing so, she has a conversation with Father Tedeschi, who had been the one to seek her out and invite her to the convent after the closing of her home church. It is then that we learn why Cecelia is so devout in her faith; she fell through a frozen lake as a child and even though her heart had stopped for seven minutes, she miraculously survived. 

After sharing her story with Father T, she excuses herself and ventures into a crypt from the chapel, coming across a nun draped on the floor. The head nun of the convent, Mother Superior, finds Cecelia in the crypt, completely ignores the woman on the ground and shows her a nail that was somehow salvaged over 2000 years from Jerusalem. She claims that it is the actual nail that was used to pin Jesus’s hand to the cross when he was crucified. Suddenly, Cecelia passes out, dreaming about red, faceless nuns poking and prodding at her before waking up mysteriously in her bed.

Once Cecelia begins adapting to her life as a caretaker of older nuns in the convent, things begin to take a turn for the worse. She throws up out of nowhere and is taken to the convent’s doctor. Then the priest, Mother Superior, and the cardinal of the parish confront her and ask if she had ever had “sexual congress” with a man, to which she denies vehemently. After the doctor confirms that her hymen is intact, it is labeled as a miracle, a second “Immaculate” conception. Creative title, right?

Cecelia is never allowed to leave the convent even when she requests to see a real doctor due to fear of something happening to the baby. As an audience, this is strange since the entire convent has begun worshiping her and that would make us think that everyone would value her health as she is carrying what they’ve deemed “a miracle.” Her request is brought on by an attack by none other than sister Isabelle who kept repeating that it was “supposed to be her.” Cecelia questions this, but no one tells her anything, of course.

The film’s attempt to blend horror with religious themes falls short of its intended impact, with sporadic jump scares and instances of body horror failing to sustain suspense. Despite its unsettling moments, “Immaculate” lacks coherence, making it difficult for audiences to fully engage with the story. Sweeney’s performance stands out as a highlight, showcasing her talent as a leading actress. However, she is not a very believable nun. With its confusing narrative and lack of resolution, “Immaculate” doesn’t reach its potential. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a respectable 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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