Written by Mickey Reece and John Selvidge and directed by the former, Agnes feels like two movies in one. The first half of the film builds up a supernatural tale of possession that is fantastic to watch unfold, mainly because of how the nuns deal with it and with the priest-specialist that is sent to them to deal with this. Then enters a former priest and things seem to take a turn for the even more interesting, when suddenly the film switches gears and follows one of the nuns outside of the convent and loses this viewer. While her story is decently interesting, the dichotomy of the stories just doesn’t work well overall, even though it makes sense how it comes to be, which is too bad as these two stories could easily be great movies each on their own.
That being said, the cast is great here with strong performances all around. They took the material very seriously, even in scenes that were just so odd and uncomfortable at times, and made the most of it. Seeing Rachel True is always a blessing and here she’s fantastic as Sister Ruth. While the film does not revolve around her character, the time given to her should have be greater. Molly C. Quinn who plays Mary gets the bulk of the screen time, giving a very good performance. The rest of the cast is enjoyable to watch, giving performances fitting their characters, from the possibly possessed nun to the showman former priest to the stand-up comedian in the second half. There is something for every type in these performances, all of it done right.
The film’s cinematography by Samuel Calvin makes all the scene look like their own entity of sort, helping make the difference between the convent and the rest of the world. The style of images and light used must be commended for letting the viewer see everything they need to see, even in the dark scenes and for taking its time when it needs to. There is a balance that needs to be achieved and here, despite the film feeling off-balance in terms of story, the images feel right.
Agnes is an interesting movie in that it feels like two films mushed into one, making it feel a bit disjointed unfortunately. As it stands, the first part of the film is much more interesting than the second part, but the performances do bring it all together in the end.