You know what time it is over here on the ol’ Blog Collab, it hardly needs any more introduction. But still – welcome to Horror Month.
We’re starting with a much loved but not saturated enough subgenre: of the bad nun variety. There’s lots of religious iconography to feast on here, all reminiscent of my Roman Catholic school upbringing*. Suddenly Sister Ursula and her extra long metal ruler don’t seem so bad.
In the 1950s in small-town Georgia, a pregnant young woman named Agatha seeks refuge in a convent.
Mary is a young girl accidentally knocked up by her musician boyfriend. She may be a wayward young filly but her priorities are in the right place: she’s saving up to rescue her little brother from their miserable home life. Dad is an abusive bastard and their mother is long gone.
Mary and boyf don’t make their living in the most honest ways but they need to get out fast, so fuck it. Alas tragedy strikes one day while they’re babysitting the brother and their plan of a happier future is scuppered forever. Step in a kindly nun with a professional business card, promising to look after her from here.
Never trust a nun with a business card, babe.
When Mary arrives at the nun run shelter, things seem cool for a hot minute but there are some very strange girls already in situ, including Paula, Doris and Sarah. The nuns aren’t exactly what you’d call fluffy types but they assure Mary she can leave anytime she likes. Hmm.
Quickly it becomes apparent that something isn’t right here (oh baby, baby) and the girls are more or less tortured by the sadistic nuns (duh). There are some incredibly gross moments that I can’t even mention without wanting to hurl. The nuns dose the girls up with weird medicines to keep their babies safe – because the babes are the most important thing – and they also forbid the girls to speak to each other. Not all the guests are preggo, some of them were and have lost their babies, or have stayed on at the shelter as staff members. Looking at you, creepy Paula.
Mary becomes increasingly rebellious when she learns she can’t just leave and this leads to punishments that supposedly match the crimes, such as an extended stay in a sealed coffin. Mary is stripped of her given name “because she doesn’t deserve it” and renamed Agatha by Mother Superior. And Sarah is horrifically punished for talking too much.
Meanwhile, Mary/Agatha uncovers the truth about the child Sarah supposedly ‘lost’ and also an even wider spread scam that the nuns are all in on. Which explains all the generous cash donations coming from the outside. But rather than get shirty about Agatha’s discover, Mother tries to recruit her into the game.
What’s a girl with limited options to do?
Well this film feels overlong but it’s not too bad. As I type this, I realise I’ve already forgotten the ending but there are some quite interesting moments of horror: e.g. death by umbilical cord further compounding the close relationship between new life and death.
The ‘tongue’ scene is naaaaaasty but there are worse, in particular the scene I won’t name and really anything vaguely churchy is already creepy by default, isn’t it?
I do find the motivation of the nuns quite flimsy, it’s a lot to be doing for a bit of money to keep a poxy shelter running but okay. Although I did find it quite delicious how quickly all the nuns turned on each other?
Loyalty? No, nun.
There are worse ways to start Horror Month to be honest than in the company of Mother Superior and her girl gang.
What does my holy angel think of St. Agatha? Would she adopt it out to the highest bidder or cut it in on the deal? Find out here.
*I’m not Catholic, I was one of the charity cases taken in by the school, relax.