‘Immaculate’ Just Gave Us the Most Intense Scene of Sydney Sweeney’s Career

This story contains major spoilers for Immaculate, including the ending.

When Sydney Sweeney first approached Michael Mohan about directing Immaculate, the actress had one primary request: “At the end of this movie, I just want to be covered head to toe in blood,” Mohan remembers her telling him. “I want my Carrie moment.”

Mohan took her words to heart.

The 89-minute Catholic-horror movie, which hit theaters over the weekend, borrows from Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and is chock full of fun and familiar religious tropes—spooky priests, spectral images, and creepy confessions. It follows Cecilia (Sweeney), a nun in training who moves from Michigan to a remote Italian convent. Not long into her stay, she becomes pregnant, despite claiming to be a virgin. This revelation (deemed a miracle by most everyone around her) sends Cecilia down a dangerous conspiratorial rabbit hole, ultimately leading to the movie’s visceral and, yes, blood-soaked final minutes. Let’s break it down.

At the conclusion of Immaculate, Cecilia discovers that the baby inside her is (shocker) not the work of God, but a clergy-sanctioned, nonconsensual insemination experiment, one that involves Jesus’s genetic strands that have been scraped from the rusted nail used in his crucifixion. Imprisoned and on the cusp of giving birth, Cecilia retaliates. She bludgeons her Mother Superior (Dora Romano) with a bedside crucifix, strangles the complicit Cardinal Merola (Giorigio Colangeli) with a rosary, and then, after setting fire to his underground laboratory, stabs the sadistic Father Tedeschi (Álvaro Morte) with his holy nail. But her murder streak doesn’t end there. After escaping the convent’s maze-like catacombs, Cecilia squats down and begins delivering her (messianic?) child, screaming in pain before biting off the umbilical cord as it writhes on the ground. Then she picks up a large rock, raises it over her head, and—with one final and primal shriek—delivers a fatal blow.

It’s an electric, unnerving, and exasperating curtain drop, her raw and rage-filled roars belying the movie’s previous candlelit terrors. In line with his star’s wishes, Mohan splatters Sweeney’s face and clothes with blood, framing her maniacal expressions in one continuous close-up shot as she births—and then extinguishes—a breathing lifeform. You can feel her unleashing everything she has into one of the most memorable scenes of her young career. “It’s all about building to this moment of catharsis for her,” Mohan says. “It’s pain, it’s anger, it’s frustration, it’s release, it’s relief. It’s just this explosion of intensity and it just felt right.”

Mohan began envisioning this infanticidal finale as soon as he signed onto the Sweeney-produced project. “Originally, this was a traditional studio movie, and so it had a much more conservative ending,” he says. “When I finished reading the script, I knew how the ending needed to be changed.” The flash of inspiration, he says, was born from his “really fucked up sense of humor,” but it also worked for the production’s tight shooting schedule throughout Italy. “I was really trying to cut out all the boring parts that you typically have to suffer through in horror movies,” Mohan says. “It’s not a particularly showy one-er. It’s more about living with her performance.”

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