According to his IMDB bio, filmmaker Mickey Reece has made 25 feature films over the past decade, which is a remarkable feat. Even more remarkable is that somehow I have never seen any of them and am only familiar with one of the titles (Hunter’s Climate, his previous endeavor), even though he has had history with Fantastic Fest. So my introduction to his work (described by a friend as “Like Neil Breen if he had talent”) was his last entry on FF, Agnes, which is said to be his most ambitious film yet.
The main character (played by Hayley McFarland from The spell) is a young nun who has apparently been possessed by a demon (or the devil himself?), prompting the church to send Father Donaghue (Ben Hall, a Reece regular from what I understand) to investigate and possibly perform an exorcism, since he had some experience with them. They assign a young priest named Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) to accompany him, and we quickly see the difference between the two men: Donaghue is clearly burned out and disillusioned with the path he has chosen, and takes it upon himself to emphasize how much life there is. he denies himself by becoming a priest, a lesson that falls on the ears of the very devoted and committed Benjamin.
So far so good – a cliche but still captivating exorcism story, driven by the nun’s interesting angle and wildly different interpretations of how to behave in the eyes of the Lord. Some of the nuns are openly in love with both men, much to the dismay of the incredibly strict Mother Superior, adding surprising humor to the mix (Reece and co-writer John Selvidge go to great lengths to break the second commandment). , and Agnes’ outbursts of possession often come on abruptly, giving the film some additional tension.
Unfortunately, things take a pretty sharp detour around the midpoint. After a failed exorcism attempt, there is a long cut to black and then when the picture returns, it is a while later and one of the nuns, Mary (Molly Quinn) has left the convent and is trying to make ends meet. month while working in a grocery store. Agnes only appears in a brief flashback or two for the rest of the film, and most of the other characters never appear again, and their fates are not even properly disclosed. Mary later meets one of the other nuns, who informs us that Donaghue disappeared and Mother Superior died, and that’s pretty much the end of the story for everyone but Mary.
Such a change is not the worst idea, and it is an admirable challenge to narrative conventions; the problem is that Mary’s story is not what I would have wanted to follow if other options were presented to me. His presence in the film up to that point was strictly that of a minor character, and his backstory, while tragic (his son died) is not as compelling as many of the other characters who were unceremoniously removed from the narrative. Finally he meets Benjamin, who replies, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” a kind of question when comparing Jesus to delicious meat in the middle of an otherwise unsatisfying sandwich; A hilarious metaphor to be fair, but one I heard while still wondering what happened to his old friend Donaghue.
Instead, the film heats up on a pair of renowned Marvel actors: Chris “Taserface” Sullivan and Sean “Kraglin” Gunn as Mary’s lustful boss and a terrible comedian who used to know Agnes, respectively. There is nothing wrong with adding a bit of star power (it will certainly help the film to have a wider distribution), but as with the narrative change in general, your characters are not given enough time to develop them. enough to help us forget them deliciously. Horny nuns that the movie had to abandon so we could meet them. Mary’s crisis of faith is sad, sure, and the idea of someone who joined the convent to find peace only to be denied there is also a wonderfully tragic concept, but as presented it just doesn’t work, which it makes the movie look like two stories packed together without the proper resolution for either one.
Perhaps it goes without saying that the film’s understated genre elements are also ultimately unsatisfactory. No one should expect a “horror movie”, but there are scenes where the objects move on their own and Mary seems to have glimpses of her future in the supermarket while still in the convent (long enough for a viewer to say “Wait, Was that Toby from We are? “half an hour before presentation.) Neither element is clarified or expanded upon, which makes me wonder why time was spent on both when it could have been applied to strengthen the other more important elements of the film.
In other words, I didn’t care that it wasn’t the exorcism-driven horror movie I thought it was when I sat down; Certainly, I have been “fooled” by movies in the past only to come out perhaps even more impressed than I would have been if they had held onto my preconceived idea of what they were. The problem with Agnes is that his big swing does not connect, leaving me impressed with the attempt but finally cold in the movie itself.
Agnes It is scheduled to be released in theaters and on demand on December 10 through Magnet Releasing.