[Interview] Sydney Sweeney and Michael Mohan Talk ‘Immaculate’, Horror Inspirations, and More

The new horror movie Immaculate arrives in theaters this week, starring and produced by a red hot Sydney Sweeney, who delivers the best performance of her career yet, and we talked to Sweeney and director Michael Mohan about crafting scares for a modern audience while avoiding “elevated horror,” and wanting to live in our Halloween vibe.

In a fun video roundtable conversation with journalists on Saturday, Sweeney immediately commented on our office backdrop, tell us, “I just want to say I am obsessed with everybody’s background, all the Halloween gear we’ve got going on, the pumpkins. I love this. I wish I could live in this vibe.”

HDN asked Mohan and Sweeney, reuniting after previously collaborating on the feature film The Voyeurs, what genre movies influenced their respective creative decisions on Immaculate.

“I grew up loving horror films,” said Sweeney, “so I always felt like one of our biggest inspirations, and Mike’s – (to Mohan) Actually in your deck you put together had multiple references from Rosemary’s Baby as just like visual references. It’s just one of the most iconic, incredible films out there. I also love Carrie. I always wanted to have my Carrie moment, hence my Carrie moment.

“I felt like my love of the genre really just poured into this film. I was so excited.” 

Mohan adds, “For me, so many horror films, but because we were shooting Rome, I needed to pay homage to the horror auteurs that came before me. So a touchstone for me was a film called What Have You Done to Solange?, because it’s a film about a young woman who’s taking on the patriarchy. And there’s a very specific scene where there are these men that are interrogating her, and we had a similar scene here (in Immaculate), and if you watch those two scenes, you’ll see how I didn’t take the visual asthetic of it but I stole the blocking from that scene.

“Additionally, there’s a film called The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, and I love the score so much to that film that we actually used one of the cues in the movie here as direct homage, when she’s kind of learning her way around the convent. It’s fully a Bruno Nicolai track that we put in the film. That’s for like the deep cut horror nerds.”

In Immaculate, Sweeney plays Sister Cecilia, a nun who recently arrived at a mysterious Italian convent where she mysteriously finds herself pregnant. Asked what they hope audiences, and in particular the massive fanbase currently following Sweeney’s every move, will take away from Sister Cecilia’s journey, Mohan answers, “For me it’s like the challenge of this film is we wanted it to appeal to both mainstream audiences and also the black shirt, diehard horror crowds. So it’s a mixture of yes, we have traditional jump scares, and I know that some of you don’t like but kids in suburbia fucking love it.

“We have the gore, but the gore isn’t to show off. You know if someone falls off of a four story building and lands on their face on some cobblestones, when you turn over their head, yeah you’re going to see their skull peeking out.

“And then the third thing is just that overarching sense of dread. It culminates – I feel like the audience is like a frog in a pot of boiling water in that when the movie starts out, you feel like you’re watching a traditional horror movie, but then it gets more disturbing. Then it gets even more disturbing. Then it gets even more disturbing, until the end, where you just can’t handle the tension until that final cut to black.

“I wanted to escape the label of ‘elevated horror’ by making something that was crowd pleasing too, and delivered in a package that’s only 88 minutes.”

Sweeney says, “It was definitely – The entire time it was we need to make something that is commercial, but also we both love cinematic films, we both beautiful shots. We wanted to have a film that really captured who we were as creatives and filmmakers, but then also appealing to a bigger audience.”

We also talked about their favorite memories from the set of Immaculate, and if they are ready to see Sister Cecilia costumes this Halloween.

You can listen to our full interview with Sydney Sweeney and Michael Mohan in the video below.

Immaculate opens in theaters this Friday, March 22.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Halloween videos!

Matt Artz

Founded Halloween Daily News in 2012 and the Halloween International Film Festival in 2016. Professional writer/journalist/photographer since 2000.