St. Agatha – USA, 2018

‘Atone for your sins.’

St. Agatha is a 2018 horror feature film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Abattoir; The Barrens; 11-11-11; Saw II; III and IV; et al) from a screenplay by Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels and Clint Sears (Tales of Halloween). The movie stars Sabrina Kern, Carolyn Hennesy and Courtney Halverson.

Plot:

The 1950s, a small town in Georgia: Pregnant con woman named Agatha is on the run and seeks refuge in a convent hidden in deafening isolation.

What first starts out as the perfect place to have a child turns into a dark layer where silence is forced, ghastly secrets are masked, and every bit of willpower Agatha has is tested. She soon learns the sick and twisted truth of the convent and the odd people that lurk inside its halls.

Agatha must now find a way to discover the unyielding strength needed to escape and save her baby before she’s caged behind these walls forever…

Uncork’d Entertainment releases St. Agatha in the USA theatrically and on digital in the first quarter of 2019.

Reviews:

“Bousman knows how to ramp up the tension in measured strokes, barely allowing the audience time to gasp for more air. His nuns are brutal in the most exploitive way, finding grisly new ways to torment their wards that don’t involve gore (though gore is plenty). If your gag reflex is strong, prepare to get tested with St. Agatha.” Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

” …excels at building backstory through interspersed flashbacks to keep St. Agatha from flatlining through chronological storytelling. But a trim to the 104-minute runtime would do wonders for reducing redundancy. Those grievances aired, St. Agatha still turns in a strong showing of gross-outs, gruesomeness, and other assorted scenes of savagery.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“The film features themes of the cynicism and hypocrisy of religion, repression but never wallops the audience over the head with it. Loaded with creepy imagery, vicious nuns, and over the top gore moments, St. Agatha hits all the right marks and delivers some very good scares along the way.” Mike Vanderbilt, Daily Grindhouse

” …the performances that Kern and Hennesy are able to give despite such substandard material are just good enough to make you wonder what they could have accomplished with a more competent script–but Bousman seems to have no idea of how to tell the story in an interesting manner and the whole thing just becomes a seemingly endless slog…” Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic

 

“Ruling with an icy demeanor and a razor-sharp smirk, Hennesy’s performance is a revelation. Rarely ever raising her voice above a stern scolding, she has the presence of an ice queen of the pulpit. Here we get a fiendishly entertaining and delicious villain that sends chills through every scene that she inhabits.” Norman Gidney, Film Threat

“For most of the running time, it’s efficiently a tale of desperation, gaslighting, and trying to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. Bousman’s direction emphasizes the stress of being stuck in the convent, not the violence that takes place within. It’s a unique decision that may limit its financial viability but is an effective creative choice.” Joey Magidson, Hollywood News

“As the film progresses, we also fall into a few typical genre tropes which age St. Agatha and make it feel a little tired. Although a refreshing redirection for Bousman, St. Agatha just doesn’t take-off in the way that one would hope. Laden with cliches, and a frustratingly slow pace, St. Agatha is watchable, just not that memorable.” Kat Hughes, The Hollywood News

St. Agatha could have done without its overly derivative musical score, featuring breathy, childlike vocals, that feels all too reminiscent of such films as Rosemary’s Baby and Suspiria. And its plot twists can be seen from a mile away. But that doesn’t prevent it from being sufficiently unsettling, even for those viewers who’ve never had their knuckles rapped by a nun.” Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“The resolution is satisfying, with things getting wrapped up as well as they could be – one overblown death scene, involving a novel weapon, is a standout. But nevertheless, it watches more like a rosary of great bits than a great film in its own right.” David S. Smith, Horror Cult Films

“Once the second half kicks in and high gear starts to roar, it makes the first half feel almost out of place. The music is also a bit parodic; lots of chanty, stringy, The Omen style stuff that seemingly every religious horror movie beats like a dead horse. Still, you’ll find that St. Agatha hits many of the right notes on the organ of religious doom…” Stuart D. Monroe, Horror DNA

” … a lot of distorted images, colourful lighting effects, familiar tropes […] Like most films set in evil institutions, it climaxes with riot and revolution – as tables are turned, and the bad eggs get scrambled. Perhaps overlong at 102 minutes, it’s still admirably furious about pious hypocrisy.” The Kim Newman Web Site

It’s overlong, with flashback sequences that are well-crafted but too digressive. But Kern and Hennessy are always incredibly entertaining, going toe-to-toe […] Much of the movie just seems designed to make audiences collectively cringe. But St. Agatha makes a point about how authoritarians coerce compliance.” Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“This film was emotionally intense and genuinely terrifying! The nightmarish story is beautifully shot, with a washed out look that gave us a vintage feel. The creaky old house had its own moments too, when we held our collective breaths as escapes were attempted.” Vicky Woods, Morbidly Beautiful

“When Mary enters the convent it’s as though we’ve stepped into another world, lorded over by an oppressive force. That warped reality is woven into the film visually, but its story is relatively straight forward and doesn’t hold you for more than a scene or two at a time.” Jonathan Deehan, Nightmare on Film Street

” …the excessively deliberate pace serves only to highlight the script’s less-than-creative bent, while Bousman’s dark and styleless visuals ensure that St. Agatha‘s hands-off feel remains firmly in place for the duration of its interminable 90 minutes – which confirms the movies place as an uncommonly misguided and misbegotten horror effort.” Davi Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

“The abuse and outright torture heaped on the women there while not overly graphic is horrifying. Designed to destroy their will as much as their body some of the sequences are genuinely harrowing. They certainly provide an effective build up to, and justify the film’s final act.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony

“When St. Agatha keeps to the genre at hand, it excels in being a creepy, atmospheric chiller with juicy religious overtones. The base narrative is solid. But unfortunately, the writers (all four of them) insist on revisiting Mary’s past every few minutes […] it adversely affects the pacing of the scary stuff.” Stacy Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment

Background:

Bousman has commented on the movie: I have always been attracted to the dark, sinister, and macabre. But, as I find myself getting older and now being a dad, blood and guts no longer amuse me. I need something more. I look for content, character and themes.

St. Agatha spoke to me as it takes a look at the unflinching horrors that befell women in the 1950’s and how that parallels to the not so different horrors that are befalling them today. It was amazing to work with such a strong female cast, and I look forward to pulling back the curtain and letting others glimpse into our sinister world.”

Having been picked up by Octane Entertainment, St. Agatha premiered at the Overlook Film Festival in April 2018.

Main cast and characters:

  • Sabrina Kern … Mary – The House (short)
  • Carolyn Hennesy … Mother Superior – Two Sentence Horror Stories; Necessary Evil
  • Courtney Halverson … Catherine – Unfriended; Red Clover; Ghost Whisperer
  • Seth Michaels … Father Andrew
  • Trin Miller … Paula
  • Lindsay Seim … Doris
  • Shaun Fletcher … Deputy Pearl
  • Maximus Murrah … William
  • Hannah Fierman … Sarah
  • Myles Cranford … Foreman Johnson, DVM

Filming locations:

Madison, Georgia

Technical credits:

102 minutes

Related:

Abbatoir – USA, 2016

The Barrens aka Devil in the Woods – USA, 2012

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