Trailer: Stylish New Thriller ‘Agnes’ Drops a Demonic Possession Into a Nunnery

At :57 into the trailer for the new religious thriller Agnes, a member of the priesthood is heard – and only vaguely seen – lecturing a nun: “If you become afraid, you can’t let it show. You have to be strong. And if you see anything strange, stick to the script.”

Of course, “stick to the script” is the standard Christian mantra that has always helped keep women in their place within the confines of churchy ideology, so that they may never stray – God help them – from knowing full well who is in charge. (Yes, yes – it’s the men.) But what are a couple of priests to do when one of the holy ordered women is commandeered by Beelzebub himself?

Agnes is the first, shall we say, more generously budgeted flick by cult-cult American director Mickey Reece (he of the 2018 Velvet Underground inspired Strike Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart, and the following year’s quasi vampire flick Climate of the Hunter). What this means is a cast that is decidedly more familiar to millions: Lie To Me / Sons of Anarchy regular Holly McFarland as the title character, plus long time Castle star Molly Quinn, and Gilmore Girls‘ Sean Gunn.

The essential storyline seems not unfamiliar: two priests – played by Ben Hall and Jake Horowitz – are called in to dispatch with a demonic possession. But that it takes place in a convent, and that their charge is an actual nun, makes it just that little more intricate of a telling of the classic struggle of good vs. evil (or Heaven vs. Hell, if you prefer).

On arrival Hall’s Father Donaghue informs the assembled nuns, “There is one among you, one who had endured a true test of faith.” Meaning yes, Satan has indeed been after Agnes’ soul – and as so many exorcism films before have reminded us, he doesn’t give up easily. That the senior priest is jaded, cynical and may actually be losing his faith only adds to the moral complexities of the story.

What’s most amusing/befuddling is that Agnes is being released – via Magnolia Pictures – on December 10, as demonic possession films tend not to be the stuff of holiday moviegoing. (Halloween, obviously, or January, when we need something to counter the weeks of seasonal sugar intake). But then, what better time than the celebration of the birth of the Savior, to be reminded that the ever vengeful Lucifer never takes a day off? Even on the big screen.

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