Immaculate review: Sydney Sweeney's baby - SciFiNow

Immaculate review: Sydney Sweeney’s baby

Sydney Sweeney is having Nun of it in religious horror Immaculate. Our review…

Directed by Michael Mohan, Immaculate attempts to invoke the feeling of a classic Seventies Italian horror, a homage of sorts to the seminal Rosemary’s Baby, complete with creepy nuns, suspicious priests and potentially devilish offspring.

The movie follows Sister Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) as she leaves America in search of salvation within a community of Italian nuns, to lead a life of service providing respite care for the convent’s aged sisters. It’s not long before she’s plagued by unpleasant visions and finds herself awakening to find she is miraculously with child. Not at peace with her new position as an immaculate mother to the church, Cecilia fights back in a desperate attempt to reclaim sovereignty over her own body and her life, but the charismatically suspicious Father Sal Tedeschi (Alvaro Morte) has his own agenda and will stop at nothing to see the birth of a new saviour, no matter the cost.

The premise brims with potential, packed with a multitude of themes including women’s struggle to obtain autonomy over their own bodies in a male-dominated world, but it falls frustratingly short of delivering the kind of gravitas such subjects deserve. Atmospherically, the expected ominous sense of dread is stifled somewhat by an overreliance on jump scares that have a tendency to curb any sustained tension that could have been. The movie at one point pivots towards something like a spiritual rape/revenge movie but unlike the controversial I Spit On Your Grave, it shies away from shocking you with the crime, and focuses on the punishment, making it feel a little hollow with its delivery of the message.

Produced by Sydney Sweeney, it’s quite clearly a passion project for her; a vehicle to show her versatility and bankability as more than just a scream queen. Immaculate arrives as an independent movie desperately clawing at the coattails of A24 and Ari Aster’s ability to push the boundaries of what commercially successful, artistic horror can be in the 21st century. However, it’s too restrained in its desire to strike the balance between commercially viable horror and independent grittiness.

Saying all that, Immaculate does have a few surprises up its sleeve, including a mid-point twist that you won’t see coming and a controversial finale that genuinely pushes the envelope of any expectations you may have.

Immaculate will be released in cinemas on 22 March