SXSW 2024: IMMACULATE Has Atmosphere Galore, But Relies Too Much On Jump Scares

When it comes to horror, I don’t mind jump scares, but only if they are well-executed and not at all predictable. Sadly, with all of the positive aspects going for Immaculate, I feel its overreliance on obvious jump frights held this movie back for me. The movie’s aesthetics are gorgeous and remarkable. The lighting, cinematography, set designs, and haunting costumes are lovely. The movie also has some important messages when it comes to organized religions. Still, this film had the opportunity to be an iconic all-time classic, but it never quite gets there.

Sydney Sweeney stars as Sister Cecilia, a young woman who feels compelled to become a Catholic nun after surviving a harrowing drowning accident at a younger age. Cecilia gets a lifetime opportunity when invited to study at a notable convent in Italy. Shortly after arriving there, she notices that there are some rather strange signs of wrongdoings taking place at the convent. And through a surprising twist of fate, the virginal Cecilia discovers she is pregnant. Believed by some of the nuns and the priests that this miracle is a new immaculate conception, the events that follow become increasingly shocking and disturbing.

The story and overall premise are intelligent and inventive, but the journey the audience experiences is a mixed bag. One particular redeeming quality is the shocking and disturbing conclusion that horror fans will laud for years. Writer Andrew Lobel and director Michael Mohan make bold choices with their commentary on the Catholic Church, and I applaud them for this. Still, the movie lacks its delivery of horrific and genuinely scary moments.

While Sydney Sweeney performs solidly in the lead role of Cecilia, it was a poor choice to cast her. I cannot buy Sweeney as a demure sister. It could be overexposure or Sweeney’s previous roles, but a lesser-known actor would have been more logical. As Father Sal Tedeschi, Alvaro Morte has more of an impact on the movie as the seemingly earnest and charismatic convent leader. I was also impressed with the performances by Benadetta Porcarolli, Giorgio Colangeli, and Simona Tabasco

Immaculate is undoubtedly a remarkable and memorable horror film and is sure to have its die-hard fans. I can see this movie developing a cult following over time, but I doubt it will ever be considered an iconic piece of horror cinema. The film was screened at this year’s SXSW and is currently playing in theaters.

Leave a comment