Director (and co-writer): Mickey Reece
Cast: Molly C. Quinn, Hayley McFarland, Rachel True, Zandy Hartig, Ben Hall, Jake Horowitz, Chris Browning, Sean Gunn
Rumors of demonic possession at a religious convent prompts a church investigation into the strange goings-on among its nuns. A disaffected priest and his neophyte are confronted with temptation, bloodshed and a crisis of faith. – IMDB
Agnes is a horror drama and it really does separate itself in film structure and plot point exactly like that. The first part is set in the nun convent and focuses on a nun who seems to be possessed by a demon and the church sends a priest and his neophyte to perform an exorcism. When things don’t go exactly as planned, one of the young nuns end up leaving the convent and this starts the second part of the film which is rooted more in drama as she tries to start her life outside of the convent while struggling with her faith. The setting change also creates an atmosphere and tone change between the first and second part of the film.
The first part of Agnes takes place in a nun convent as one of the young nuns called Agnes goes into a rage suspected to be a demon possession. The nun convent setting works really well to build up the horror atmosphere. There’s a gloomy darkness to the whole set-up. The nuns themselves also have a contrast to this as they are fairly solemn but also have an air of this odd comedy as they talk about the priests coming in to help with the exorcism, an exception to their usual life which usually is without presence of any men living in the same quarters. Whether its the interaction between the nuns and the priests and the tension between the them versus the situation at hand which seems to be resolved as planned, the whole situation does get fairly out of hand. The situation itself sparks a lot of questions in terms of questioning the rumors surrounding this priest as well as the faith and belief in the whole idea of exorcism and demon possession as a whole, leading up to how the situation towards Agnes is done which leads to another young nun Mary leaving the convent.
The second part focuses on Mary after she leaves the convent. The transition is rather abrupt however the contrast also changes the tone to be more along the lines of a drama as the reasons of why she decides to leave is revealed as well as a bit of her back story that is relevant as she starts to have signs of being possessed as well. It all dials down to this part really bringing up the key points of the plot itself regarding faith and religion while also touching on dealing with trauma to a certain extent. This second part also bringing in cameo role with Sean Gunn as a comedian who thinks he is more funny than he actually is.
Agnes is both a slow-placed and odd movie and yet, the whole focus on nuns and the convent really is a unique sort of setting and probably less used (at least from my own experience) making this refreshing. The plot itself questions the existence of possession which is also an interesting direction to take the horror premise creating perhaps a more psychological angle to it. While its a little abstract and between the lines for some of its messages, the film does approach this in an interesting style both from some imagery inserts in between scenes as well as a unique sense of humor especially between the nun and priests and the possible hint towards some sort of temptation and resistance.
*Agnes is screening on demand throughout Fantasia Film Festival on its virtual platform from August 5th to 25th. You can find more info HERE.*