St. Agatha is a new horror film from director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Repo! The Genetic Opera). It is about a pregnant young woman in 1950’s small town Georgia who, seeking escape, takes refuge in a convent where she hopes to have her child in peace and safety. She soon discovers that there is something more sinister going on behind the scenes.
The story of the film is very intriguing. At first glance, it seems like the film is going to be a rip-off of The Nun and other similar supernatural films, but that is far from the case. Instead, this is much more unique — a psychological thriller with an intriguing mystery at its core. Although the end result is somewhat expected, the ride sure is a lot of fun.
The film’s biggest weakness is its character development. Over the course of the film, the protagonist does come to be likable, but there could have been a bit more development early on so that the audience could more easily rally behind her. The supporting characters aren’t as well-developed. That being said, there is some sympathy for them because of the situation in which they find themselves.
The film also became a bit heavy-handed at times. There are political undertones throughout the entire film, but (for the most part) those aren’t cumbersome. In fact, those add another layer of intrigue to the film. However, there are a few scenes in which the film does go over-the-top and feel like it is bashing that messaging over your head.
The filmmakers also did an excellent job of creating something that is truly disturbing. This film isn’t overly reliant on jump scares or gore, instead using the audience’s mind to create suspense and fear. There are a few particularly bloody moments, like one involving a bear trap, but those are brief and used for maximum impact.
The actors all do a solid job in their roles, especially for a film of this genre. The biggest standout is Carolyn Hennesy, who plays the film’s primary antagonist. Sure, she’s hammy and over-the-top, but this works in a film that is like that as a whole. In fact, her performance is likely a significant part of what made the film so enjoyable.
In technical terms, the film is also rather impressive. The cinematography and production design both do a solid job of periodizing the film. Of course, there isn’t the same level of immersion as there would be with a major studio production, but it gets the job done. The practical effects are also very strong, with the relatively light but impactful amounts of gore looking really good.
Overall, St. Agatha was a surprisingly fun film. It isn’t what you would expect, and there are some surprisingly disturbing moments throughout. Horror hounds will want to check this one out.
St. Agatha is in theaters and on VOD beginning February 8.