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Michael Mohan & Sydney Sweeney Talk IMMACULATE's Evolution

A poster showing Sydney Sweeney's profile looking off into the distance with blood on her collar
Image courtesy of NEON

By Shannon McGrew

In IMMACULATE, Cecilia, an American nun of devout faith, embarks on a new journey in a remote convent in the picturesque Italian countryside. Cecilia's warm welcome quickly devolves into a nightmare as it becomes clear her new home harbors a sinister secret and unspeakable horrors.

Leading up to the release of IMMACULATE, Creepy Kingdom's Shannon McGrew participated in a roundtable discussion with actor/producer Sydney Sweeney and director Michael Mohan. During their chat, they discussed everything from Michael Mohan's venture into horror to Sydney Sweeney's commitment to the project.

Congrats, Michael, on your debut horror film! What was your experience like venturing into this genre? Did you encounter any unique challenges you hadn't experienced before with your other films?

Michael Mohan: I love horror movies! I see every major horror release on opening night. I love that it's such a communal experience. I also love that the horror community is much more loving than other sub-genre communities. I think it's because we all have the same f**ked-up sense of humor. So when Sydney approached me for this—this is her baby—I wanted to knock it out of the park. But also, because we were making it independently, we wanted to push the envelope; we wanted to push it far. You can't shoot horror like any other genre; you have to be mindful of how you're building tension and releasing tension. Being able to play with that visual language was fun, but it was also very challenging.

Two women dressed as nuns are sitting talking to a man crouched down.
Michael Mohan and Sydney Sweeney on the set of IMMACULATE | Photo Credit to Fabio Lavino, Courtesy of NEON

Sydney, you originally auditioned for this film in 2014, but the movie did not materialize then. Years later, you came back to it as a producer to get the film made. What about the script resonated with you so deeply that you remained committed to this project?

Sydney Sweeney: There were multiple elements. One is that I loved Cecilia's character. As an actor, she pushes me to go to such deep places that she's not aware that she's capable of going, and as an actor, you learn to unlock new layers of yourself. Whenever you have a character that challenges you in new ways, that's exciting for me.

I also loved Andrew Lobel's story in itself. I loved the idea that, oh my gosh, are there people out there trying to make this happen like that? That thought crossed my mind, and it terrified me, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.

The film's ending is super f**king powerful and one of the best I've seen in recent years. People seem to either love it or hate it. What do you think about the ending embracing some people while also pushing others away?

Sydney Sweeney: I think that's why we wanted to make it. We wanted to make something that was going to be divisive. We wanted to make something that was an impactful final moment.

Michael Mohan: The fun of horror movies is debating its merit, you know what I mean? That's part of the experience, and so, to me, it's not about whether you love it or hate it; it's about whether or not you had a good time, whether or not it made you think, and whether or not you feel passionate about talking about it when it's over. I think no matter whether you like this movie, it's undeniable that her performance is incredible.

Sydney Sweeney: Look at the people who didn't like it. They're still talking about it, so it kind of worked out [Laughs].

IMMACULATE is now playing in theaters. For more on film, check out our review.


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