St. Agatha (2018)

St. Agatha
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels, Clint Sears
Cast: Sabrina Kern, Carolyn Hennesy, Courtney Halverson, Seth Michaels, Trin Miller, Lindsay Seim, Shaun Fletcher
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
It’s the 50s in Georgia and Agatha (Sabrina Kern) is pregnant but unmarried. There’s only one place she can go: the convent that has been taking in women like her for many, many years now. What seems like the perfect place to have her child in peace and then be able to return to her old life as if nothing has happened, quickly turns sour as Agatha starts to find out more about the convent and what happens inside its walls.

St. Agatha didn’t work for me at all. On the one hand, it handles a very sensitive topic very badly and on the other hand it doesn’t make much sense. Additionaly, it’s so full of clichés, it made the entire thing even more annoying.

The film poster showing two nuns with covered faces standing over a girl cowering on the floor.

[SPOILERS]

Unwed mothers and their children is another area where the catholic church really fucked up, systematically, over decades and then covered up their fuck-up, systematically, over decades. It’s a mess and one where they barely started to clean up, make reparations or even take a long, hard look at themselves as an organization. And I’m not saying that the tenderness of that hurt means that it is necessarily off limits for a film, but it would need a more thoughtful approach than what we get here.

The film sensationalizes so much. Making the nuns outright abusive is one thing. I’m sure that physical abuse did happen. I don’t think that it went to the lengths that the film goes to in its depiction, though. And I’m pretty certain that most of the abuse would have been psychological – and of that there is practically no trace in the film. My problem here is now two-fold: one, it makes it seem like the actual survivors who “just” experienced “a little abuse” are to blame that they didn’t fight harder for themselves or their babies; and two, it made no sense from a narrative perspective: if the nuns had treated the prospective mothers nice for the time they were at the convent, they would give birth, would happily leave their children in the hands of those kind nuns who are sure to take excellent care of them and the nuns could have done everything they wanted to do with the children – and that is their ultimate goal. Now, I know that an abuser will abuse, whether it’s a tactical advantage or not, but in this case, I didn’t buy that the nuns were abusers in that sense.

Film still showing three nuns in a corridor.

The film does have a couple of effective scary moments and some nice body horror, but the strenghts it has got drowned in the clichéd characterization, sensationalism and disrespect that comes with it. Maybe coming from a catholic country, despite not being catholic myself, makes me particularly humorless regarding the depiction of the catholic church’s transgressions, but I just couldn’t help but feeling that the film does a disservice here. Not to the church, but to its survivors.

Whatever the reason, the film didn’t work for me and I pretty much regretted the time I spent watching it instead of doing something else.

Sabrina Kern in the film.

Summarizing: awful.

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