Immaculate// Sydney Sweeney Does Nunsploitation

Immaculate had its world premiere at SXSW 2024 on March 12th and hit theaters over the weekend. As a witness, I can attest to the fact that it was the most anticipated horror of the festival and, if my local theater is a sign of what to expect, Sydney Sweeney is firing up audiences. 

Written by Andrew Lobel and directed by Michael Mohan, Immaculate stars Sweeney as Cecilia, a young woman of devout faith set to take her vows in a remote convent in the Italian countryside. Other than a language barrier, Cecilia is eager and happy to embark on her new journey with the help of Father Tedeschi (Álvaro Morte), who acts as mentor and translator. The plot isn’t particularly new or exciting and felt dull at times. There isn’t much explored within the supporting cast and surprisingly, Sweeney’s character isn’t made all that interesting. However, she makes up for it by going all in on her performance.


I brought along 4 Gen Z college-age students to the first showing at my local theater and the audience was ecstatic. They needed to see this and they were joyfully responding throughout. I might have been one of the few that wasn’t enjoying it as much as others but there were some excellent moments.

Sydney Sweeney can scream! Cecilia isn’t a silly or meek character. Her situation becomes frightening almost from the moment she steps into her new home. There are nuns with red masks that nobody talks about, one of the nuns is dismissive of her, and most of her requests are ignored. Cecilia might be alone but she is strong and maybe too brave? I would have liked to know less if I was her.

The twist in the story is so bizarre that it was described to me as Jurassic Park meets Rosemary’s Baby and it made me want to laugh. The fault in this case lies in giving too much detail. A little ambiguity would have gone a long way. There are too many cheap scares, and I usually eat them up but they almost ruined the tension and left the tone feeling uneven.

I had fixed myself on leaving the theater disappointed but Immaculate was truly saved by an incredible performance by Sydney Sweeney and magnificent third act. We didn’t get much else, but what else did we need? The audience was cheering and I leaned all the way in for that conclusion. Superb ending for the horror fans. 


Looks to me like NEON is letting these people do all the advertising for them. Nothing like a little Satanic panic to get us into theaters. Hope they stay packed.