St. Agatha shines as a woman driven horror film about nuns


St. Agatha has everything. Coffins, torture, nuns with guns, a Reek shout-out, and a female villain who could go rounds with the best of ’em. Get ready!

St. Agatha, the newest flick from horror director Darren Lynn Bousman, is a fun nunsploitation with a bear-trap to remind us that the director/writer of Saw II, is still in the house. It’s a story about women, a rarity for the horror genre unless it’s about witches or attractive young women slashed to death.

Nunsploitation is a sub-genre about nuns doing bad things. There’s all types of evil nuns in exploitation: sadistic nuns, possessed nuns, perverted nuns, even gun-toting nuns. But I’ve never seen a film about money-hungry nuns, which makes St. Agatha unique.

The film takes place in the 1950’s, when expecting single women were shunned by society. Mary, played by newcomer, Sabrina Kern, ends up pregnant by her grifter boyfriend. She seeks refuge at a convent because she has nowhere else to go.

An isolated house, the convent is surrounded by woods filled with bear-traps. The women who live in the house are under the charge of Mother Superior, who suffers from a personality disorder or two.

Mother Superior (Carolyn Hennesy) is a woman who hates other women. She hides who she really is behind a mask of goodness. However, she doesn’t even hide it that well, to be honest, as if being Mother Superior comes with the status privilege of being sadistic.

St. Agatha – Courtesy of Dragon Blood Holdings, St. Agatha, The Outside Writers

St. Agatha is a horror film about women with a dash of American Horror Story: Asylum. It shows how cruel women can be to other women, under the guise of care. Female sociopaths are more likely to abuse women and children because they are vulnerable.

In an era of rising feminism, it’s important to not only focus on how men treat women, but how women treat each other, for women can be just as misogynistic as men. And sometimes, even worse.

Mother Superior, a victim of the Church’s patriarchy, is a misogynist as well. Mary, and the rest of the girls, are tortured by Mother Superior and the nuns.

She targets Mary because Mary speaks up, Mary knows something is wrong with Mother Superior. But she doesn’t try to leave the convent until Mother Superior forces one of the girls to eat her own vomit, and by then, it’s too late.

The other girls at the convent are terrified of the older nun. One girl cuts out her tongue, rather than face her wrath, which makes you wonder what else Mother Superior has done, because the girls have lost their spirit. But Mary isn’t a coward, she’s pregnant but she isn’t broken, although she’s caught in a bad situation, when Mother Superior’s cruelty escalates to unimaginable levels.

There’s a few scenes with gore that delighted the horror audience, although there’s less gore than expected. The screenplay focused on Mary’s previous life, told in flashback, which may have slowed the expected pace.

But the pace works, when you realize you’re watching, what is essentially, a gothic horror story and the story could be true, it could have happened. For all we know, it has happened, somewhere.

St. Agatha -Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

It’s inspiring that Darren Lynn Bousman chose a female-driven project like St. Agatha to direct, and that he and the screenwriters (Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels, and Clint Sears), wanted to tell the story about a group of alienated women, both young and mature.

The screenplay does Mary justice and shows her earlier life with her abusive father and con-artist boyfriend, so that we understand, what it was like for unmarried, expecting women in those days. Spoiler alert, it sucked.

St. Agatha, is more than just nunsploitation, it has an original twist that underlines the hypocrisy of religious groups, particularly the scandals of the Catholic Church. St. Agatha is a fun and meditative horror flick, with a couple of not-to-miss gross out scenes for the fans who loved the Saw franchise.

light. Related Story. St. Agatha horror film delights fans with nunsploitation

Never underestimate the power of a woman or a nun with a gun.

Are you a fan of Darren Lynn Bousman? Have you seen other nunsploitation that compares to St. Agatha? Which villain is more terrifying — Jigsaw or Mother Superior? Let us know in the comments!