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‘Immaculate’ Review: Weak Concept But Packed With Carnage

Sydney Sweeney turns in one of the most deranged performances of her career in Immaculate. An occult thriller produced by Neon.

‘Immaculate’ Review: Conceptually Weak and packed with Visual Carnage
Immaculate / Image Courtesy of Neon

Given the premise of this film, I was expecting the horror to lean into supernatural territory and play with occult concepts, but Immaculate ends up really being more of a gore fest with brutal violence and a bit of comedy that is sure to trigger a certain demographic of the audience. 

As if Sydney Sweeney’s performance in Euphoria wasn’t already deranged enough, she pulls out all the stops in Immaculate as a brooding nun named Cecilia who is looking to start her life anew in an Italian convent. Sweeney is able to carry this innate sense of paranoia to her demeanor early on in the film, which juxtaposes nicely with her character who believes she’s doing right by the hand of God, but very deep down has an uneasy feeling about the practices conducted at the convent.

This subtlety eventually grows into outward defiance and desperation where Sweeney drops the innocence of Cecilia and bursts into a fit of rage and revenge which is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from her. The events of the third act allow her to explore her range with a mix of pain, anger, and a bit of humor that she channels into her facial performance in the final moments of the film.

The fact that she returned to this project to produce it ten years after she had initially auditioned for it accounts for how fantastically she pulls off an explosive role, and could cement her as this generation’s scream queen.

‘Immaculate’ Review: Conceptually Weak and packed with Visual Carnage
Immaculate / Image Courtesy of Neon

In addition to this film essentially being a celebration of Sweeney, it also brings into the spotlight international actors that need to be more acclaimed for their work, most notably Álvaro Morte, who is well known for his role as “The Professor” in Netflix’s hit show Money Heist.

Álvaro plays a seemingly inviting priest who takes interest in Cecilia upon her arrival at the convent, but deep down it might seem like he has some ulterior motives unbeknownst to her. He executes the role with the same tact, precision, and heart that he did in Money Heist and should be recognized more for his abilities across the industry.

In terms of story, it had the potential to rehash a lot of plot points and tropes that horror films dealing with religious themes often tend to do, and while it luckily manages to avoid that for the most part, perhaps it took too much of a literal approach to the horror, with plenty of moments that feel like they’re purposefully being built up to jump scares.

The jump scares themselves will elicit a pretty good jolt out of you but the anticipation of waiting almost diminishes its impact. Much of the real horror from the film comes from its physical violence and intense body horror that gradually gets more explicit throughout the course of the film.

There are some gnarly kills, brutal deaths, and grotesque imagery, all of which I found works much better than the forced jump scares. The ending scene in particular is an absolute bloodbath and has what will most likely be the most controversial moment of the film and will for sure garner backlash from a specific crowd.

‘Immaculate’ Review: Conceptually Weak and packed with Visual Carnage
Immaculate / Image Courtesy of Neon

Now as for the narrative of the film itself, it actually raises more questions than it answers, especially about halfway through as it relies more on a show-and-tell method of storytelling than anything. This ultimately results in an exposition dump in the third act to try to account for an explanation of everything that took place prior to it which is where it loses a lot of its mystery.

Even though the story should seem more straightforward than it is, a few too many threads are crossed and whatever confusion is caused is masked by the blood and violence. The whole thing ends up being narratively weak but still digestible enough for the audience to piece it together.

So while Immaculate is a bit lacking in execution of its overall concept, it still manages to be technically great and deliver a thrilling ride of visual carnage that’ll get your stomach in a twist. Sydney Sweeney is a godsend (pun intended) and acts unhinged like there is no tomorrow and carries the film to high heaven.

‘Immaculate’ Review: Conceptually Weak and packed with Visual Carnage
Immaculate / Image Courtesy of Neon

Immaculate stars Sydney Sweeney, Álvaro Morte, and Benedetta Porcaroli and will be playing in theaters worldwide over the coming weekend. Please go watch this film for yourself and form your own opinion. 

If you liked this article, please be sure to check out some of our other articles and reviews here at Feature First. Thanks for reading!

Artist by nature, music maker by choice, film enjoyer by force. You can always find Vincent stuck in gridlocked LA traffic.