Immaculate: The Darker It Gets, The Better It Gets

2024 is Sydney Sweeney's year as she stuns in latest horror Immaculate

Alex Paine
9th April 2024
Image Source: IMDb
We’re only three months into 2024 and Sydney Sweeney has already had an incredibly varied year. She’s starred in an OK Shakespeare-inspired romance (Anyone But You), and a cinematic travesty that she was admittedly the best part of (Madame Web). Luckily, Immaculate is definitely the best of these three films, not because it’s perfect but because it’s braver and more visceral than your normal nun-centered horror movie.

It sadly starts out on its worst foot. The first half-hour is not bad by any means, but it’s fairly generic and falls into a lot of the same traps that these movies normally do. We have lengthy dream sequences, we have secondary characters acting strangely, and we have fairly tame moments of gore that just barely qualify as horror. There’s some really nice set design and camerawork, with the convent itself looking stunning, but that just goes to show that there wasn’t much else going on under the surface for the first twenty minutes or so.

The third act is really damn good and has one of the most insane and brilliant endings to a horror film in recent years

But of course, we soon find out that Sydney Sweeney’s main character Cecilia is pregnant, despite never having any sexual activity with a man. She’s pregnant through immaculate conception which naturally causes a bit of a stir in this peaceful convent in Italy. Here’s where the film really picks up and, while it’s still completely ridiculous, I found myself going along for the very dark and brutal ride that the second and third acts of this film took me on.

The film cleverly organises its three acts in order of the three trimesters of pregnancy, while ramping up the intensity (as well as the violence) massively between each act. The film also improves its quality as it goes along - I’ve already stated that the first act is fairly by-the-numbers, but the third act is really damn good and has one of the most insane and brilliant endings to a horror film in recent years. You definitely won’t forget it in a hurry, that’s for sure.

The best aspect of Immaculate is undoubtedly Sydney Sweeney, who gets given some really challenging material to work with as the film progresses, all of which she handles fantastically. A close-up shot of her near the end goes on for almost two full minutes, and it’s honestly one of the most striking shots I’ve seen in film recently, not just down to the unique way it’s filmed but her selling every second of it.

The film also manages to be scary, but not in the usual sense of jump-scares and loud noises after periods of total silence. Rather, the film taps in to some really human horrors of desperation, survival and pain, which really makes the film far more visceral than I was expecting going in. There’s all the usual gross-out stuff (including stuff with fingernails that I simply could not look at) but it feels darker and more painful than it usually does and I love that.

It’s a shame that Immaculate takes its time to get going because once it does, it’s a blast of a horror film. Sydney Sweeney is fantastic throughout, it looks beautiful, and it’s not afraid to go in some genuinely nasty and brutal directions. Although films are widely available on streaming now, I’d recommend seeing this in the cinemas while you can, because if you’re with an audience of people who are into it, it will elevate it significantly.

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