Something’s wrong with Sister Agnes (Hayley McFarland). Suddenly prone to violent outbursts that shock her small convent, the cause is clear to these devout nuns: she must be possessed by the devil. Time to call in the big guns in the form of exorcist Father Donaghue (Ben Hall, known by fans as the vampiric star of Mickey Reece’s previous film CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER). Various methods – and priests – are utilized in an attempt to banish the devil from Sister Agnes. Closely watching the disturbing events unfold is Sister Agnes’ best friend, Sister Mary (Molly C. Quinn). The eventual exorcism shakes Sister Mary and her faith to the core, and she flees the convent to give secular life a try. With that, the classic possession film is turned on its head in the final act, heading into uncharted and fascinating territory.
This will mark the fourth year in a row Fantastic Fest has screened a film from director Mickey Reece, which certainly must be some kind of record. The consistently beautiful visuals, impressive dialogue, and astonishing originality present in his work keep us coming back year after year, and AGNES delivers on all fronts. Quinn shines as the reserved yet curious Sister Mary, who deeply feels and questions every aspect of her existence. The film satisfyingly delivers on the genre front but also delves deeply into questions of faith and purpose, masterfully balancing tones in an ambitious and exciting way. AGNES is sure to enthrall longtime fans of Reece’s work, and garner him many new ones. (LISA DREYER)