Agnes wastes no time in setting the stage. The Tribeca Film Festival world premiere is about a nun (Hayley McFarland) who is rumored to be possessed. When a priest in waiting (Jake Horowitz) and his mentor (Ben Hall) are sent to investigate, everyone sees their faiths tested. What they learn changes the lives of everyone at the convent.
Though the premise is a familiar one, director Mickey Reece makes sure this is never an issue. Agnes goes beyond its seemingly formulaic plot and does things not normally seem in exorcism films. Reece is a prolific filmmaker with a very noticeable style. Agnes is no different as it has the same visual and audio flair. There are quick zooms and characters speak with strange cadences. The film has an interesting soundtrack that does not seem appropriate for certain scenes but always seems to work. It all brings a different atmosphere to the proceedings.
Agnes constantly asks its audience to walk a thin line. True faith, trauma, and grief are all addressed on multiple levels. Even the story itself changes its focus. Viewers are constantly looking at the story from different angles. There is a very drastic change about halfway through Agnes. It is a risky and bold move from Reece and co-writer John Selvidge. The settings and tones are almost like two separate movies. It is unique, but it may turn off some people.
Agnes may sound like a standard issue exorcism movie, but it is unlike anything in the sub genre. There are definitely scares to be found, but it is the human stories and filmmaking that take center stage. The film is a character study that tackles questions that everyone can relate to.
The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from June 9 – June 20
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