Immaculate: A Film Review

I went to see Immaculate with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law yesterday afternoon. I wasn’t terribly interested in it, but they invited me along and I figured I might as well. I hadn’t watched any movies in probably about a month – it was time.

For a movie that I was expecting to be less than enthused by, I ended up enjoying it somewhat. Not that I think it’s a great film or anything, but it was perfectly watchable. I was never bored and it moved along at a good clip – I was more than a little surprised at how quick it seemed to go by.

Immaculate is the story of a young American nun who joins a convent in Italy. Some odd/spooky things happen, and then she mysteriously ends up pregnant despite being a virgin. That’s really as much as I can say without spoiling the rest of the plot, though it’s not particularly shocking. There’s some very clear foreshadowing, and I can think of at least a couple other movies with quite similar denouements. I’m not accusing Immaculate of being derivative, it’s just that a lot of movies exist and wholly original plots might not even be possible anymore. Well, I say that, but also Poor Things exists, so… I don’t know.

If it wasn’t already clear, this is a horror movie. But what sold it for me was that a couple cursory Google results told me that it’s actually an art film with horror elements. Which is not especially true, but Immaculate is a little bit above your typical horror schlock. A little bit. In some ways. That is to say, it’s more suspenseful than stabby. I guess. Look, it’s been a while since I’ve written something, okay?

I want to say that there were two main things that I disliked about Immaculate. Firstly, a woman dies by falling off a second-story roof at one point. This scene bothered me because we get to see the post-impact body and it is smashed all the way to Hell. There’s simply no way that such a short fall would cause anywhere near that much damage. I honestly only buy that she died because she fell head-first. The second problem was that there are a couple of really cheap jumpscares, which felt out of place in this movie and were probably only there because… that’s how you make modern horror movies? The most egregious one is when the main character is telling the story of how she nearly drowned in a frozen river, and there’s this smash cut to a frame of her under the ice, backed by an ear-piercing scream. It was maybe one full second long, and came in the middle of an otherwise quiet conversation. It felt so artificial, forced, paint-by-numbers… Just didn’t need to be there at all.

Oh, I thought of probably the worst part of the movie: the characters are all super flat. I think they all max out at about two personality traits. Even the main character! Who we’re supposed to be empathizing with! But I literally could not tell you anything about her other than she almost died and then because a nun because she believed that it was God who saved her. Otherwise, she’s kinda boring and just does what the plot needs her to do. But I guess you could generally say that about nuns? At least the stereotypical nun. I’m sure there are plenty of real-life nuns out there who have lived rich and interesting lives.

So one of the things that I did like about the movie is the score! I’m not a big movie score kind of person, but I liked a lot of when there was actual music set to a scene. The spookier scenes generally had by-the-book horror ambiance, but the actual music was surprisingly good. Good enough that I really paid attention to it, which I almost never do.

I’d like to pretend for a moment that I’m a person who actually knows anything about filmmaking and criticism, but I’m just not that good at bullshitting. I think that despite the flat characters, the acting was generally quite good. Sydney Sweeney really gave it her all, and I found Alvaro Morte to be quite charming even at his most sinister. I like to think that the camerawork was also quite good – there were a lot of shots that I felt were interesting, at least. Something about framing and symmetry? I don’t know. I know absolutely nothing about cinematography except for words that I’ve heard actual film critics say.

The violence in Immaculate was also quite notable! For one, it was much gorier than I had expected, with some really gnarly shots. What really really surprised me, though, was the number of scenes that I had to avert my eyes from. I’ve watched a heck of a lot of horror movies in my time; I’ve seen it all and am highly desensitized to violence. So you’ve gotta hurt a character in a very specific way to turn my stomach, and Immaculate managed to accomplish that three times. I’m impressed!

At the end of the day, I don’t think I’d ever really recommend Immaculate. If it sounds like something that you would appreciate, then by all means, give it a shot! But it’s not particularly special in any way. It was fun, and I did really appreciate how brisk it felt, but it didn’t leave a mark. I’m going to forget it completely by the end of the week. I certainly don’t regret the time I invested into this movie, but if you wanted my opinion, there are a lot of better ways to spend those 89 minutes.

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