As part of Home‘s annual cinematic Halloween celebration, FilmFear, we were lucky enough to catch a screening of Darren Lynn Bousman’s latest flick ‘St Agatha’. Having previously directed sequels for the seminal ‘Saw’ franchise, Bousman came at the project with a whole wealth of experience directing gory thrillers. For this nunsploitation movie however, the horror came far more gradually and psychologically; though never the less terrifying.

St. Agatha (2018)

Set in a small town in the 1950’s, the plot follows Mary (Sabrina Kern); a young pregnant woman who’d just hit rock bottom. Desperate and without hope of a better life for herself and her unborn child, Mary seeks solace at an out-of-town convent where we’re introduced to the authoritarian Mother Superior (Carolyn Hennesy) and her odd-bod following of nuns. Mary’s hopes of sanctuary are quickly shattered, as she uncovers the sinister nature of the convent, and the nuns who’s supervision she is under.

Despite playing on many classic horror tropes, ‘St Agatha’ is a psychological thriller like nothing I’ve previously seen. It’s religious context could so easily have dictated this movie to play on supernatural ideas like many of its peers, however the evil we see is purely human. The sheer cruelty displayed by Mother Superior acts as the frame work for the story, as she picks off the women in her care one by one.

The spontaneous brutality quickly loses its shock factor though, as the audience quickly become accustomed to the routine physical and psychological torture that face the women. Despite it’s best efforts to keep the viewer in suspense throughout, it doesn’t take much time to realise that the film with play out as a battle of morality between Mother Superior and Mary (who is ‘reborn’ as the titular Agatha).

‘St Agatha’ is a bombardment of horror from the very start, however the desperation to keep the story unpredictable often played off as whimsical and even a bit funny. The film’s strength was absolutely in the complexity of Agatha and Mother Superior’s relationship, however the lack of attention paid to the supporting characters left the film feeling shallow in parts. Regardless, ‘St Agatha’ is well worth a watch. It’s idiosyncrasies give it a truly fresh take on many classic horror tropes, and definitely won’t leave the viewer disappointed.

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