There’s something a bit creepy about nuns isn’t there? I can’t figure out if it’s their predominantly black costumes, their strict demeanour or some repressed issue that I have with religion, but it feels like they are easily used as a tool for fear in film.
Films like The Nun (2018) and Demonia (1990) are just a couple of films that have capitalised on this, so I felt drawn to watch St Agatha, a film that promised to take be on a terrifying journey at the hands of some sinister sisters of mercy.
From its opening sequence, St. Agatha grabs the attention and grips the audience, laying a path for a ‘saw-esque’ torturous trip (Darren Lynn Bousman of Saw fame was responsible for directing this movie).
But the terror soon ramps down as we are led along the back story to explain the opening scenes.
After falling pregnant, a broke con-woman named Mary is forced to take up lodgings at a convent that is run by a particularly strict Mother Superior that has recently been cut off by the Vatican for reasons that aren’t immediately made clear.
After spending some time at the residence, Mary witnesses numerous distressing events and realised that there are dark practices taking place. Sadly though, this realisation comes a little too late for her as it also becomes clear that she has no way of escaping the brutality of the sisterhood and that there are plans for her and the unborn child.
Though things do intensify in terms of tension and there are a few uncomfortable scenes which help to increase the level of fear, St Agatha somehow misses the mark.
As the pressure rises and falls the viewer soon comes to realise that they have met the limit of terror within the first thirty minutes and the remainder of the film is predominantly about Mary’s battle to retain her sanity and escape, which is a rather over-used idea and therefore isn’t that exciting to watch.
The film is still engaging on some levels. One are two scenes and pretty nasty and Carolyn Hennesy does a good job at playing the sadistic mother superior that runs this evil operation, somewhat reminiscent of Jessica Lange in her similar role in American Horror Story season 2.
Sadly though, her performance, a sprinkling of torture and some over-used horror themes and story lines aren’t enough to make this film stick. Worse still, in an apparent attempt to make things more interesting the film goes in circles, adding in new elements which aren’t really necessary and just serve to make it all feel more repetitive.
St. Agatha is another horror film that starts with promise, but sadly doesn’t leave a lasting impact. It goes to prove that using a big name horror director doesn’t guarantee a surefire hit.