July 3, 2024

IMMACULATE: More Catholic Shenanigans

2024 / 88 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Catholics have had a rough time at the movies lately, being the chosen antagonists of two high profile horror films this year. Not only that, they’re depicted as zealots who are appallingly indifferent to body autonomy regarding female productive rights (an underlying theme in both films, though arguably more prominent in this one).

Historically, it’s amazing how often two films with similar premises get released in the same year. Deep Impact & Armageddon and Volcano & Dante’s Peak are a few notable examples. But not only do Immaculate and The First Omen have similar premises, they share almost the exact same plot and were released only a couple of weeks apart. 

The First Omen had a bigger budget and brand name recognition, but Immaculate came first and has Sydney Sweeney, who’s apparently a big deal right now. Prior to this, I hadn’t seen her in anything else…Anyone but You wasn’t really on my radar (and Madame Web wasn’t on anybody’s). She delivers a knock-out performance as Sister Cecilia, a young nun who joins a convent in Italy, which is run by Father Tedescha (Álvaro Morte).

Cecelia attends the world's most boring concert.
We already know there are evil doings here because the prologue shows another nun maimed and buried alive after trying to escape. So while Tedescha is hunky & charming, we suspect a sinister agenda. The others in authority, Mother Superior and Cardinal Franco, practically have ‘evil’ stamped on their foreheads. But that bit of blatant foreshadowing isn’t really a dealbreaker. 

Having already seen The First Omen, a feeling of deja vu runs strong through the first act, which increases tenfold when Cecilia becomes pregnant, even though  she’s still a virgin. Everyone in the convent declares it a miracle, but several ominous incidents (and a little snooping) reveal a dark agenda. I suppose the biggest plot difference is that, unlike The First Omen, there’s nothing to suggest anything supernatural going on. A few hallucinatory scenes notwithstanding, Immaculate leans more toward psychological horror. For some viewers, that might render this one a little more disturbing…especially the way it ends.

That doesn’t necessary make it better than The First Omen. I actually enjoyed both films a lot more than I expected to. Though produced independently on a lower budget, Immaculate is similarly atmospheric and presents its story at an effectively deliberate pace, so when the visceral shocks do come - some really brutal - they hit a lot harder. 


AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Michael Mohan

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