Inside the first ten minutes of Agnes, there’s a gap scene the place a younger woman sings in a peaceable method to a gaggle of nuns; a pair minutes after that, there comes a scene of stated nuns sitting collectively, with one abruptly shouting how the group are all whores and lustful – the desk shaking and silverware floating within the air. If that occurs to learn to you want an abrupt shift in tone, that’s simply the beginning.
Directed by Mickey Reece, written by Reece and John Selvidge, Agnes begins out like a typical demonic possession movie. Father Donaghue (Ben Corridor) is known as upon to research a convent of nuns and ensure if there’s any demonic exercise amongst them. The sufferer particularly is that of the titular Agnes (Hayley McFarland), who’s the lady from the start yelling on the different Sisters and has continued to lash out violently and spew blasphemous language. Accompanying Father Donaghue is Benjamin (Jake Horowitz), a priest in coaching. When the 2 arrive on the convent, they have to do what they’ll to avoid wasting Agnes, all whereas striving to keep away from temptation and the evil that lurks amongst them.
One may say that’s a simple premise in relation to all these movies. Nevertheless, not solely does Agnes battle when it comes to tone in relation to this portion of its story, it additionally introduces a significant tonal shift inside its final 48 minutes. For a movie that’s roughly an hour and a half, this shift is tremendous abrupt; whereas it does cling to one of many movie’s thematic factors, it does a lot to erode any of the suspense or horror that had been build up.
At one level, I couldn’t assist however surprise if Agnes was attempting to be a darkish comedy. A number of actions and features of dialogue are delivered in janky or uncomfortable manners, with upsetting and critical subject material being dealt with in a cartoonish vogue. The movie has a number of scenes which can be baffling in consequence, and it’s laborious to find out the tone Reece and Selvidge have been aiming for; when an effort is made to convey an motion or line in a critical nature, it’s met with a goofy response that undersells the severity of the matter.
For instance, in a scene the place Father Donaghue is attacked by a possessed Agnes, the latter channels the phrases of a younger baby and yells out that he touched their “wee wee.” When Father Donaghue, Benjamin, and a few nuns are speaking afterwards, Father Donaghue asks how she may know that, and everybody shrugs it off, with Benjamin mentioning that he thought everybody knew. If the second is attempting to promote us one thing that’s meant to be surprising and convey a critical matter, it’s poorly executed and vapid.
Tonal points like these damage the general plot all through Agnes. There’s considerably of a looming thematic level relating to lust and temptation – however minus a pair temporary scenes the place there are pictures of individuals hooking up and sexy nuns speaking about individuals being engaging, there is no such thing as a actual effort to cowl these matters. It’s a thematic level that’s extremely floor stage. How the narrative decides to deal with Agnes and her affliction can also be fairly the letdown, contemplating the place the movie finally ends up by its conclusion.
To speak about that ending, we should discuss Mary (Molly C. Quinn). The largest theme inside Agnes is disaster of religion; to the movie’s credit score, extra time is allotted to the subject by a number of characters – however primarily that of Mary. In terms of her although, her narrative path solely goes thus far, hinting in direction of the larger depths the movie may have explored. With out giving an excessive amount of away, these final 48 minutes tackle an excellent intense tonal shift. Minus a pair scenes, Agnes finally ends up taking part in out as and concluding like a disaster of religion drama. It has the beats of that kind of drama, with feel-good moments alongside trials and battle – however in the end ends on a baffling ultimate scene the place Mary and the viewers are left solely with questions.
To be truthful, there’s some attention-grabbing character work being completed by Mary; early on, the movie offers her some further focus, which finally ends up making extra sense when that larger shift comes. She is a personality with an entire lot of potential, and given all she has gone by, there’s an air of anticipation to see how occasions will play out for her. However in its exploration of these combating religion, Agnes doesn’t say a lot in any respect. Loads of consideration is given to conversations surrounding function – but in these – the movie feels restrained in how a lot additional these conversations may go. Some neat concepts to ponder, certain, however nothing that challenges the viewers or pushes boundaries of thought.
For what it’s value, the forged are actually giving it their all right here; it’s simply that no quantity of self-awareness or effort from anybody inside the movie can put it aside from its story. It’s unhappy to say in a means, however there’s a robust story inside Agnes – sadly, there’s little of substance right here, and what’s current is slowed down by messy writing and thematic and tonal route.
Agnes is now accessible on all main VOD shops.