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    He said, she said: ‘Immaculate’

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He said, she said: ‘Immaculate’

Garrett Hartman, he, and Ariana Powell, she, review the horror film “Immaculate”
Sydney Sweeney in “Immaculate.” Photo courtesy of NEON.

“Immaculate,” a March released horror film, follows Cecilia — played by Sydney Sweeney — as she travels to Italy to join a convent. However, once she arrives, she quickly notices strange people and occurrences happening around her, as well as within her.

He said:

Immaculate is a film that feels misbranded. It presents itself as a horror film yet it isn’t all that scary. The film feels burdened with this label as it tells a story which really comes across more as a thriller. 

“Immaculate” seeks to set up this creepy nunnery yet fails to establish much information of importance. Throughout the movie, it depicts creepy moments where nuns will be acting erratically but none of these moments come to fruition or end up tying into the film’s main story. The first act of the film seems like wasted time because of this. 

One element particularly neglected is the faith of our protagonist. The film suggests many of the younger nuns at the nunnery are troubled women who ran from home at the behest of a charming priest.  Some nuns are shown to  not truly believe in the faith they are sworn to but it remains largely ambiguous. This is an even bigger fault as the film doesn’t establish how faithful our protagonist is herself.

Benedetta Porcaroli in “Immaculate.” Photo courtesy of NEON.

Her best friend, for example, seems completely ambivalent to religion, while other nuns seem obsessive and over-informed based on the angle the film is going. It leads to an unclear sense of how our protagonist feels about her sudden virgin pregnancy, or “immaculate conception” as the title references. 

At times she feels bizarrely accepting of the situation she is in, before becoming incredibly concerned for relatively little reason. The film does get better as it draws to its close. The ending particularly has an incredibly well-acted and bold sequence by Sweeney.

The way the film seeks to examine women’s right to choose, and religion is really quite compelling. However, it suffers from an obligation to serve the horror genre. It is a movie that could’ve been great, had it chosen to delve deep into either horror or thriller. Instead it feels too obsessed with the point it makes in its conclusion to bring the film to that point naturally.

She said:

A lot goes unanswered in “Immaculate,” some of the answers are alluded to, but few solid ones are provided, which is disappointing.

As the story bumbles along, little things pop up here and there, but some of them are never fully explained, leaving a few plot holes.

Yet, these mistakes and other plot and narrative disappointments are just the background to the real reason behind the film.

This film makes a statement regarding the abortion rights movement, specifically the debate between keeping and aborting a baby when connected to religion.

The expectant mother, Sister Cecilia, joined an Italian convent after her church in the U.S. was closed down due to a lack of interest. This seems a little far-fetched, but serves some of the smaller points of the narrative and plot.

From there, she’s blessed with an immaculate conception, and to some, takes on the title of “saint.”

It’s clear from the beginning that Cecilia is stressed about this sudden pregnancy and doesn’t seem to take too much interest in the baby. Then as the film progresses, she has more and more reasons to not take an interest.

At the start, I made a few guesses as to what the ending was going to be, and I was pleasantly surprised, a little bit anyway. I expected the film would resemble “Rosemary’s Baby,” and it sort of did, but like an inverse.

Also, for being branded as a horror movie, it didn’t feel like one; it didn’t even have the dramatic twists inherent to psychological horror films. I will say, the idea of waking up one day pregnant with little to no reason but that it was an immaculate pregnancy, is quite terrifying.

“Immaculate” is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video.

Garrett Hartman and Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].

Ariana Powell can also be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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    Call Me Jose // May 24, 2024 at 9:35 pm

    Also so sad that Hollywood keeps making anti Catholic bigoted propaganda, only putting Catholics and religious people at risk of harassment and bullying both by students and professors even here at Chico State.
    Great writing!