Demons are popular right now, and I have seen plenty of horror films depicting demonic possession, but with Mickey Reece’s Agnes we get a different take on what leads up to a person’s possession.
Agnes is a 2021 American horror film that was written and directed by Mickey Reece. The film stars Molly C. Quinn, who is also one of the producers. When Sister Agnes (Hayley McFarland), a cloistered nun living at Saint Theresa’s convent, begins exhibiting signs of demonic possession, her Mother Superior (Mary Buss) contacts the diocese for help.
The bishop decides to pair together a young priest, Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) with an older priest. Father Donahue (Ben Hall) doesn’t believe in demons any longer, and in fact, we wonder if he still believes in God. Benjamin is nervous about working with Donahue because of the Donahue’s lackadaisical attitude towards church’s teachings, and it is also hinted that Donahue was involved in a case involving sexual abuse of a minor. Benjamin, who has not yet received his vows, plays the straight man to Donahue’s brusque outbursts.
Poor Agnes is possessed, but we never learn how or when the devil decided to take up residence in her soul. Agnes resides in a cloistered society that is overseen by a Mother Superior who could make a Marine Drill Sergeant hide under his bed. Mother runs a tight ship, and she has no time for demons, so when Donahue and Benjamin arrive at the convent, she wants them isolated from her nuns. The young nuns, some who have not taken their vows, are afraid. No matter where these young girls hail from, living the cloistered life will isolate you from the world. For those of you who don’t know how a cloistered convent works, I can describe it in one word: Hermit.
Members of a cloistered society are strictly separate from the world. They will most likely never see their families again. Their duties call for prayer and silence. Agnes joined the order because she lost the love of her life. She was a student in college and was dating one of the professors. Her best friend and fellow nun, Sister Mary (Molly C. Quinn) joined the convent after her young son died…both girls are going through a crisis of faith, but we still don’t know what allowed Agnes to be possessed.
The fact that the bishop had decided to send a priest who was accused of molestation to do an exorcism, speaks volumes about the Catholic Church, “Do as I say, not what I do.” I found it hard to like Hall’s Father Donahue. His character’s cockiness turned me off. When Donahue does attempt the exorcism, he mistakenly assumes the demon has been banished…and then suffers a disfiguring accident for that brazen assumption. Benjamin watches in horror as events spiral out of control. When all else fails, Donahue calls in a friend to help.
I don’t want to give away too much of the film, but Donahue’s calling in an arrogant Evangelical minister (Chris Browning) to help with Agnes only makes the situation worse. After the second disaster at the convent, Mary turns in her rosary beads, and attire, and returns to the outside world. The rest of the film focuses on Mary’s survival in the outside world. She is alone, working for a creepy boss (Chris Sullivan), and just barely making rent.
Mary is questioning her faith. Has God abandoned her as he did Agnes? Will her despair open the door to demonic possession? Strange things begin to happen after she meets comedian Paul Satchimo (Sean Gunn), who incidentally had a previous connection with Agnes. After Mary contacts Benjamin, who is now a full-fledged priest, we learn what happened to Donahue, and the sisters of Saint Theresa.
I was a bit disappointed in the film because we never find out what caused Agnes to be possessed. Was it despair as Benjamin had suggested? As a former Catholic, we were taught that it is pretty damn hard to be possessed by demons, so why Agnes? What was it about her that allowed a demon to take over her soul? That is the part of the story that should have been fleshed out. Also, after Agnes attacked the Evangelical minister, we don’t know for sure what happened to her. All we are told is that the convent had been closed and the remaining nuns placed into another convent. I would have preferred to learn more about Agnes and if she survived her demon.
Agnes will be released in theaters and VOD this Friday, December 10th.