Now available for rent as of today is AGNES, a movie I was so eager to dive into head first after seeing the trailer, since it looked so devilishly good! Lord knows I love a good nun horror, and this new addition to the collection is part-horror, part-thriller; but it's an all around unsettling film from beginning to end. In a weird way, Agnes feels like you're watching two shorter films since it follows one main character through two very drastically different parts of her life, and both parts of the movie feel like they're on such opposite ends of the spectrum that it makes for such an impactful watch. But before we get ahead of ourselves, Agnes is a magnificent flick that sends two different types of chills down your spine: the physical chills in the form of a nun being possessed by a demon and the emotional chills that come with dealing and coping with loss, grief, trauma, and forgiveness. Director Mickey Reece really knew how to fucking hit you hard with both and it works so damn well, it's uncomfortable to even admit. But if movies like this are your jam, Agnes is an absolutely must-see for you because what it has going on is powerful stuff, I can't even lie. What starts off as a fun possessed nun film takes a drastic turn to an emotional struggle and it's one that - even for the nonreligious - could make you stop for a second and think. I loved everything about this movie - from the look and sound to the characters and casting alike - and I think many viewers will as long as they go into it knowing not to expect a full on The Exorcist kind of movie. It's got some pretty wicked possession scenes, yeah - but there's a lot more to Agnes when you really let it dig deep and hit you. It's a film absolutely worthy of rewatches and I'm sure it won't be long until I have it playing again on that perfect day where I'm ready for it. (Reader's beware: possible spoilers ahead so please proceed with caution!)
In Agnes, a convent of nuns is flipped upside down when one of their own - Sister Agnes (Hayley McFarland) - seemingly becomes possessed by a demon, spewing vile comments towards the other nuns, ripping things off shelves and basically wrecking hell on the sisters. When the church catches wind of this, they send over Father Donaghue (Ben Hall) and his soon-to-be priest buddy Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) to the all-women convent in hopes that Donaghue - who has a secret background in exorcisms - can address the recent events and cast out the demon. But their arrival is far from welcomed by the mother superior, who pretty much protests their arrival but allows them to at least try and do what they need to do, as Sister Agnes deals with her inner battle versus whatever demon is possessing her. And even though the film is called Agnes, the films real star is Mary (Molly C. Quinn) who is the best friend of Agnes in the convent, and the second half of the film deals with her pretty much being haunted by two things: the destruction of Agnes to the possession and the loss of the only person she's ever loved. But the film goes so much deeper as it addresses Mary's private battle with her faith in God after losing all she's ever cared about, and why any of this even matters. The second half of the time sees Mary trying to return to a normal life outside the walls of the strict as fuck convent and back in the city like an everyday person, struggling to make rent and get by. Will Mary get any sort of solace in her faith, or is the loss too great and the wounds too deep to bring her back to the holy life? Find out in... AGNES!
What's funny about this movie is that it honestly feels like the whole movie is going to be about Father Donaghue and his rocky relationship with both the church and the convent, since the first half of the film is so heavily focused on the possession and Donaghue's character. But his appearance is just the tip of the iceberg as the film gets so much deeper than just a priest reciting some prayers to draw out a demon. And not at all trying to take away from Hall's performance as Donaghue - because it is fucking awesome and I wish there was way more of him throughout the rest of the movie - but Quinn is a fucking superstar in this film. She is the gem that this movie absolutely required to have the impact that it does, and I cannot picture anyone else who could have the emotion and look upon their face to tell a million words a minute than Quinn. In a very rare instance such as this role, she is an absolutely vital piece to the success of this film and Reece having her in the role was perfect. In the second half of the movie, literally every. single. scene. she has these looks on her face that literally will pierce right through your heart each time you see it, as you can see her faith and happiness dwindling away... and it's heartbreaking. You'll find yourself wanting to root for her so badly, and it physically will hurt you to see her slowly falling apart. Quinn needs awards for this role.
Like I mentioned before, though, is that viewers need to know what they are about to watch going into it. You're not getting The Exorcist or The Conjuring, and you're not really getting jumpscares - Agnes isn't really about that. Agnes has such deep contexts that it explores outside of "scary demon ahh!" It has physical and emotional wounds that weigh heavy on Mary, and it's what the possession leads up to. So while Agnes may not be the type of movie that the "I wanna see a scary movie" audience may appreciate, fans of psychological thrillers would definitely eat this one up and savor every moment of it, even though I wish everyone would give this one a shot with an open mind cause it's fantastic. I think Agnes is a fucking hidden gem of 2021 and it's destined for legacy among the genre once it gets the viewership it rightfully deserves (and maybe some awards for Quinn?!). It's magnificent on every level and with that, I have to say that Agnes is more than worth both your time and money. Check it out!!