Film Review: Agnes

STUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Mickey Reece | CAST: Molly C. Quinn, Jake Horowitz, Ben Hall, Hayley McFarland
SPECS: NR | 93 min. | Horror thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):
Movie 1/2

Billed as a horror-thriller, Agnes performs a bait and switch …

When Agnes (Hayley McFarland, The Conjuring), a nun living in a secluded and strict convent, starts exhibiting bizarre behavior, rumors of demonic possession abound. The leaders of the Diocese hold a shadowy meeting, and they dispatch priest-in-training Benjamin (Jake Horowitz, The Vast of Night) and Father Donaghue (Ben Hall, Minari), his disillusioned mentor and alleged pedophile, to investigate the situation and conduct an exorcism. When the first attempt doesn’t stick, Father Donaghue calls in the big guns, a sports car-driving, shiny suit-wearing celebrity priest Father Black (Chris Browning, TV’s The 100) to finish the job.

So far, Agnes‘s dark humor and intentionally cheesy effects signal you are in for a fun, quirky subversion of Catholicism and previous films that have tackled it. But when the exorcism fails in grotesque, deadly fashion, the film’s tone shifts so drastically it causes the type of whiplash not seen since Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

The second half of the film follows Agnes’s close friend Sister Mary (the perfectly angelic Molly C. Quinn of TV’s The Rookie) who, after the horrific turn of events, abruptly leaves the convent and attempts to build a life outside the church. In her new world, Mary experiences other types of horror that include living in a drab apartment, toiling away at a low-income supermarket with a sleazy boss and exhibiting her own strange behavior (like striking up a peculiar relationship with Agnes’s ex-boyfriend).

As quickly as a communion wafer dissolves on the tongue, so goes the humor, eccentricity and horror that writer-director Mickey Reece (Climate of the Hunter) and co-writer John Selvidge (Climate of the Hunter) set up in the first half. An examination of a nun’s crisis of faith and healing after trauma is a thought-provoking story, but the way it is presented in Agnes is confused and disjointed. None of the characters have much depth, motivations are murky and potholes abound, leaving many unanswered questions.

Each part of Agnes could have worked on their own, but in tandem, they don’t congeal into a satisfying whole.

Watch Agnes

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at