Nunsploitation horrors: An immaculate review

Written by: Lili Minato | Freelancer

Content warning: this article contains spoilers and discusses dark themes involving pregnancy and religion. 

The infamous nunsploitation genre is back with two new blockbuster films that have left audiences rattled and disturbed. 

Nunsploitation is a film subgenre that involves the exploitation of nuns in a horror or thriller setting. Some of the most popular films of this genre come from “The Conjuring” universe, specifically the movies “The Nun” and “The Nun II.”

“Immaculate,” which hit theaters on March 22, gave audiences a more artistic approach to the often repetitive and predictable horror subgenre. “Immaculate” follows an American nun, played by Sydney Sweeney, who joins a hospice convent in Italy. Besides the slightly off-putting comments and actions by the elderly nuns who are cared for in the convent, Sweeney’s character, Sister Cecilia, considers the Italian countryside her new home. 

As the days and weeks pass, Sister Cecilia notices more odd and unusual occurrences around the convent, corresponding with her worsening health. Cecilia becomes increasingly more ill and requests to see a doctor. In return, she gets a checkup by the convent’s appointed physician, 

where the devout nun finds out about her pregnancy. There is nothing that has caused the said pregnancy so it is ruled to be an immaculate conception. Sister Cecilia was going to give birth to the next baby Jesus. 

The first half of “Immaculate” is predictable and filled with plot holes; there is nothing too unique about it. As the film progresses, though, the artistic values start to show.

The final scene provides a beautiful “Rosemary’s Baby” finale for the film. 

Sister Cecilia has just escaped her captors and is free from the convent. She stands outside, surrounded by the beautiful countryside, but the beauty starts to deteriorate as she goes and squats by a tree. The camera moves up close to Cecilia’s bloody face as she begins to scream. 

The screaming lasts for multiple minutes without any camera cuts. After a while, a crying baby can be heard. The camera then pans out and follows Sister Cecilia as she goes and grabs a heavy rock, she brings it toward the crying infant who is out of the frame. She holds a rock above the baby and drops it. With that, the film ends. 

Sweeney gives an excellent performance that proves she has the pipes to be the next big scream queen. 

Along with “Immaculate,” another blockbuster nunsploitation film was released two weeks after the former. “The First Omen” is the sixth installment in the “Omen” franchise and shares a very similar synopsis with “Immaculate.” 

“The First Omen” also revolves around an American woman sent to Italy who becomes suspiciously pregnant on arrival. The only difference is that the main character faces an arguably more sinister birth than Sister Cecilia did. 

Both films are currently in theaters with “The First Omen” getting slightly better ratings than “Immaculate.” For nunsploitation fans, both seem to be worth the watch. 


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