• Home
  • Movies
  • “Immaculate:” Sydney Sweeney is our next Scream Queen. (Op-Ed)

“Immaculate:” Sydney Sweeney is our next Scream Queen. (Op-Ed)

WARNING: Spoilers for Immaculate.

Sydney Sweeney, best known for her role as Cassie Howard in HBO’s Euphoria, has proven that she has an incredible range. While I was initially weary of Immaculate, expecting it to be a rather soulless, boring horror movie, Sweeney’s performance was unforgettable. She deserves far more credit than she receives, and I’m tired of misogynist critiques of her work. A lot of cruel people only see her as “the large-breasted girl from Euphoria,” but she is so much more than this reductionist take. Sweeney is our next Scream Queen.

Immaculate follows the story of Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney), a young girl who became devoutly religious after she suffered a near-death experience as a child. She travels to Italy to become a nun at a prestigious convent, eager to make her vows and live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. When she enters the convent, it is clear that she does not regret her choice. She makes friends, takes care of old and ailing nuns, cleans the linens, and genuinely enjoys the life she has chosen. Sweeney’s innocent, empathetic performance draws the audience to Cecilia, as she is truly a wonderful person who is true to her beliefs. Even when strange occurrences happen, Cecilia does not want to leave and tries to understand cultural differences as well as the mental decline of the older Sisters.

However, her idealistic life takes a sharp turn when the virginal Cecilia is discovered to be pregnant. As Dr. Gallo (Giampiero Judica), the Mother Superior (Dora Romano), and Father Sal Tedechi (Álvaro Morte) speak excitedly in Italian, Cecilia lays on the table staring at the sonogram, unsure what is happening to her. Sweeney’s tear-filled eyes reflect Cecilia’s innocence, her unsureness, and her unwillingness to be chosen as the mother of the second coming of Christ. The way that Sweeney embodies this unsureness and fear, yet remains the ever-dutiful, pious young woman is remarkable; I have not seen a horror performance this striking in ages. Sweeney’s performance is not flat or base, it’s incredibly compelling and gripping. I found myself completely emotionally invested.

Yet, the end of the film is where Sweeney proves herself as a competent, incredible Scream Queen. She’s not just a pair of breasts in front of a camera screaming as several male critics have noted, she embraces the ethereal nature of feminine pain and rage. Watching Sweeney scream in pain as she suffers labor pains, slaughter those who held her captive and experimented upon her, and ultimately kill the inhuman “baby” she birthed with a large rock shows Cecilia’s evolution from demure victim to Angel of Death; her entire time at the convent was a lie. Father Tedechi chose Cecilia to join them due to her DNA and chromosomal characteristics, feeling that she was a suitable womb for the biological matter extracted from the Holy Nail that contained the blood of Christ.

Sweeney’s pure rage and expression of both emotional and physical pain is something iconic. I grimaced when she walked on burned, bloody feet, feeling nauseous that this poor girl, this girl who wanted nothing more than to serve God and be true to her religious beliefs, was forced into being an unwilling, unknowing participant in a cruel genetics experiment. I felt Cecilia’s rage, her anger, and her sorrow. Sweeney is vicious and cruel as she portrays brutal killings. It is more than just a believable performance; it is one that struck me to my core.


Join Our Mailing List

Recent Articles

Hey! Are you enjoying NYCTastemakers? Make sure to join our mailing list for NYCTM and never miss the chance to read all of our articles!