Ever since the first Exorcist movie, we’ve been bombarded by religious horror with similar iconography, symbols, and ideas. Sister Death is a unique film that doesn’t quite fit the bill perfectly, but that makes it all the more powerful due to its unpredictable nature. The slow-burn film is not like others in the same genre, but it still uses similar visuals to propel the story, which in its own way makes it a little uninteresting. Sister Death tells the story of Sister Narcisa, a character from the 2017 Spanish-language horror film Veronica. A young novice who doubts her status as a “holy girl” begins to find strange things when she joins a convent to teach young girls. As the story unfolds, nothing is as it seems. Burning crucifixes, suffocation, and objects falling from nowhere are all common traits of this genre that this film uses extensively. So, taking some liberties, we’ve come up with a list of films that fall under the same category but bring different things to the table.
There’s no way we would leave out the classic possession story that brought the genre to the main stage. Not only is The Exorcist still one of the scariest films out there, but it uses a secretive narrative that is truly captivating and confusing to the viewer. If you don’t pay attention, there’ll be much that’s lost on you. The Exorcist is also surprisingly slow, as things painstakingly come together in terror. Of course, this film is about introspection, similar to Sister Death. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s definitely worth a double feature because it has a somewhat less morbid ending than Sister Death. Personally, this author quite liked the new film, but hardened fans will find that to be blasphemy. If the original is too scary for you, The Exorcist: Believer might do the trick. But we’ve warned you about the hate it’s received.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Yes, this film is known for its court scenes, which are quite fabulous, but it also has some “heart-in-your-mouth”-level scares scattered throughout. 3 a.m. will never be the same again. Apart from being a basic religious horror movie, as Narcisa is a “holy girl”, Emily too has a connection to Mother Mary. We will not go further and go into spoiler territory. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is also based on a true story, which makes it all the more frightening and definitely a little more fascinating than Sister Death. Visually too, it has some awe-inspiring scenes that will stay with you a little while after.
Before anything, you should know that this film stars Dan Stevens, who is popularly known for his role in Downton Abbey. This is one of the two films on this list that has a male-centric story. This movie can feel tedious in bits, but it has some terrifying, gory scenes that will make you want to look away. Apostle is a unique cult film that delivers interesting messages by the end. The film, although using religious symbolism, isn’t really about being pious as much as it is about being a genuinely good person. It’s a film of second chances and goes from a slow pace to a horribly violent third act. If the way Sister Death progresses is something that interests you, then give this one a go.
Ari Aster’s Midsommar is about a cult but also has a cult following of its own. This is a daytime horror like no other. Similarly, a lot of scenes in Sister Death happen under daylight, making it more terrifying. Midsommar is a slow burn, and for a long time, it feels like a convoluted love story until the gore begins. Sister Death is a story that delves more into the gray area between light and dark or good and evil, and Midsommar does something similar. Both films have a female lead with a beautiful intensity and rely wholly on their performances and character drives.
Dubbed the best horror film of all time by some, this Korean-language film is 2 hours of sheer chaos. If a horror sub-genre exists, it is likely to be in this film, although at first it comes across as seriously confusing. The Wailing incorporates plague, possession, shamanism, and a detective procedural all in one. At the same time, it’s also a family drama, and there’s really a lot going on in this film, but we won’t get into the details. A fair warning: this may come across as too slow or tedious at first, but the end is quite rewarding. Similar to Sister Death, The Wailing relies quite a lot on atmospheric beauty that is arresting in a terrifying way.
Of course, the best thing to do would be to watch things in order and do a double feature with Sister Death and Veronica Sister Narcisa’s character will make more sense after seeing her origin story in the 2017 film. It would also be fun to pick out the similarities between the two films, as there are a lot. “You don’t need eyes to see” becomes much clearer through sister Narcisa’s origin story. Both films are short and have a bleakness to them, so a fair warning if you don’t want to end up depressed. At the same time, some of the scenes come across as goofy because of the CGI. Ultimately, they’re cut from the same cloth, so go with this one if that’s what you’re looking for.
Which of these films would you pick? Did you like Sister Death? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments down below!