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Immaculate (SXSW Review)

Photos of premiere below!

Nunexploitation films are on the rise as we get more and more religious horror films, coming out of the wood works. Some of these movies play on a lot of the same tropes that we have seen before. There are also ones that are beloved by many, such as The Nun, that has created an iconic character, played by Bonnie Aarons. From lack of better words, there has been a bit of a cult following with horror fans, when it comes to this sub-genre. If done right, religious horror films can be absolutely terrifying. Especially for someone like me, who grew up catholic and was taught that god and the devil exist. Now I have received a new movie, from Neon, called Immaculate! Directed by Michael Mohan, we get the newest entry in this sub-genre. Sydney Sweeney stars in the film playing Cecelia, someone who is about to devout herself to God, by joining a covent in the countryside of Italy. Her character Cecelia begins to learn that there is something sinister that is happening at the covent and need to fight to survive the horrors that are laid upon her. Especially when she is surprised by a miracle pregnancy, she is confronted with unspeakable evils. Immaculate went so hard and blew me away. A beautifully shot film that is well crafted. Sydney Sweeney gives a performance of her career! A new horror icon has emerged! I’m happy to say that this movie delivers the horror in every way. Those looking for the next great religious horror flick, will have to search no longer! Immaculate will be one of the best horror films of this year and we may have our next best horror scream queen, with Sydney Sweeney's performance!

The person who made this movie even possible was Sydney Sweeney herself. She auditioned over 10 years ago for this role and the movie never was made. She then went on the project to produce the movie herself and attached director Michael Mohan. They worked together on The Voyeurs and had to come together once again to make this movie. Good thing they did, because it was super well crafted and every shot in the movie looked intentional and well thought out. These two super stars really cared about the way this movie was filmed. Immaculate looked gorgeous and that was the very first thing that I noticed, while watching the movie. Michael Mohan has a very distinct style and signature. It was directed with such craftsmanship. Elisha Christian did the cinematography for the film, most known for doing the cinematography to one of my favorite movies ever, The Night House. The film grabs your attention from the start and never lets go. It created a disturbing, creepy and uneasy atmosphere. So much so, that the movie never made me feel comfortable watching. There was always a sense of danger. The camera moves in a way that revealed each location with a sense of danger and uneasiness. It was added with a score that leaves chills on your body. There were many moments that are filled with long shots of eeriness, giving me goosebumps. Composer, Will Bates, nails the score of the film and helps build a lot of tension. The first half needed all these elements to stay original and different, because it was pretty formulaic at the start. Nothing too crazy happens in the first half of the movie, besides one or two scenes that stand out. One specifically, a scene at the confessional. Great use of score, camera work and lighting. What really held my attention during the first half is the craftsmanship of Immaculate. I can easily tell that this movie was made with love and they really cared about the storytelling. Then, we get that perfectly executed third act, that goes bonkers. Which is the point where I feel in love with this movie and what it had to offer. The movie completely flips direction and goes down a path of pure chaos and I loved every moment of it. Immaculate just worked so well and never lacked anything or had anything holding it back. Incredibly paced and smooth from beginning to end.

The big star of the movie is Sydney Sweeney. She is what makes this entire movie go to the next level. The strongest performance she has ever given to date. She killed it in every scene, which is a huge achievement. Her role as Cecelia was very demanding physically and mentally. This role could have made or break the movie, depending who would have been casted. It was amazing to hear that Sydney seemed very interested in this project, after so many years. It probably worked out for the best, because she was able to use all her talent and skills that she acquired over the years and implement it in this film. The amount of range Sydney Sweeney gave me in this movie is unmatched! This credits her as the newest scream queen in the horror genre! She is a horror icon and deserves it. Her performance is ferocious. She can hold her own with an already talented cast, but standout without a problem. The entire cast does an impeccable job at delivering this story and making every moment believable. All the major emotional scenes, does come from Sydney being for the most part. She propels each scene where it needs to be. She even gets one of those scenes where she can let out a scream that makes horror icons legendary. Putting the name scream queen onto her resume with ease. I cannot talk about her performance enough. Sydney Sweeney should absolutely do more horror films and I honestly cannot wait to see what she does next. I do have to highlight that both Álvaro Morte (Money Heist) and Benedetta Porcaroli (Perfect Strangers) give it their all too. There were some great scenes that they shared with Sydney that created a lot of the tension in the movie. Their characters also go through a lot of physicality in the film as well. Everyone really put in their all in this movie and the end result, for lack of better words, is immaculate.

Immaculate needs to be on everyone's watchlist. I think the horror community will be raving about this movie all year long. Sydney Sweeney's career seems to be always on the rise and continues to get better and better. Love seeing her not only get the star power she deserves, but also recognition in her acting capabilities. I was excited to hear that her and Michael might be working on more projects together. Sydney Sweeney even jokingly said that their next project might be a musical. It doesn't mater what they do together, I'll be there for it. Immaculate plays on all the horror tropes well, but the highlight of the movie is that third act. Some people won't see it coming and the payoff is well worth it. I love that the movie takes some risks and has a lot of symbolism. This movie has a lot to say and isn't just any standard horror film. It has plenty of layers for audiences to take some meaning out of. One of those films that will be enjoyable with many rewatches as well. This movie deserves to be seen in theaters with the biggest crowd possible. Highly recommend people to take groups of friends to go see this one. It is a bloody horror feast and y'all will get fed from this one. Immaculate is gonna be in my top 10 horror films of the year, without a doubt. It hits theaters March 22nd, so make sure to plan your watch soon!

Rating: 91/100


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