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Written By:

Joel Harley

On March 2nd, 2024, actor Sydney Sweeney hosted the popular American variety show Saturday Night Live. In the process, the Euphoria and Anyone but You star unwittingly unleashed countless triumphalist tweets [X’s?] and think-pieces from those who couldn’t really pin down what ‘woke’ is in the first place. All claimed that Sydney Sweeney had ‘killed woke’ by, uh, having breasts and not hiding them.

Fast-forward twenty days to the release of Sydney Sweeney’s openly pro-abortion, anti-Church, anti-men horror film Immaculate – a film which features, in addition to a shocking vein of gore and violence, the most inappropriate use of a crucifix since The Exorcist. Who’s the ‘death of woke now,’ eh?

Sweeney stars as young nun Cecilia, whose devotion to her faith is sorely tested when she takes on a position in a convent in rural Italy. Cecilia has barely had a chance to learn the ropes (wiping old nuns’ arses and hanging laundry, mostly) when she comes down with a curious case of morning sickness – and is quickly diagnosed to be with child. As the baby grows within her virgin belly, the rose tint quickly begins to fade, and Cecelia starts to question everything she thinks she knows.

Directed by Michael Mohan (having previously directed Sweeney in 2021’s The Voyeurs), Immaculate is a queasily atmospheric work of Italio-horror – wearing its genre influences on its sleeve along with the prayer beads and giallo-esque black leather gloves. Featuring grisly practical effects and truly discomforting moments of violence, it couldn’t be further away from the likes of Rosemary’s Baby or The Nun – if it did have kinfolk in Western horror, it’d be Ready Or Not, particularly as Cecilia grows increasingly desperate and unpredictable in planning her escape.

This envelope-pushing work of religious horror grips from the off, showcasing a subtle sense of humour as it welcomes Cecilia into its world. The dialogue between her and her fellow sisters snaps, and while Sweeney impresses in the lead (slightly redeeming herself for whatever was going on in Madame Web), Benedetta Porcaroli steals scenes as the foul-mouthed Sister Gwen.

As the trimesters stack up, so Mohan and writer Andrew Lobel double down on this unhinged path into a third act few could have conceived of. Deeply profane in places and a startling work of taboo-busting nunsploitation.

IMMACULATE is out now in UK cinemas.


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