Few things are as scary as nuns, draped in their signature black garb, dishing out vengeance and striking terror into the hearts of all. We’ve seen this eerie trope in films like The Nun, The Crucifixion, and The Blackcoat’s Daughter, among others. Yet, Sister Death sets itself apart from its contemporaries by delivering a narrative that doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares.
In this movie, it’s not the typical ghosts, spirits, or statues crying blood that are the primary sources of your fear. Instead, it’s the backstory that connects them all, leaving you with goosebumps. Sister Death, Paco Plaza’s latest film, is a feast for the eyes, especially for those who appreciate a horror film that strikes a perfect balance between a gripping narrative and spine-tingling scares. He understands that true horror lies not in the fleeting shocks but in the lingering sense of unease that a well-crafted story can impart. Sister Death honors this, making it an absolute must-watch for horror lovers.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
Sister Death begins with old footage that shows a little girl holding her rosary toward the sky with scores of people surrounding her. The scene cuts to the present, and we’re introduced to Hermana Narcisa (Aria Bedmar), who has joined a covenant school to teach young girls hailing from a low-income background. Once in the building, Narcissa meets Mother Superior and Sister Julia who informs her of her responsibilities.
Mother Superior is overly excited to meet Narcissa and appreciates her for volunteering to teach young girls the teachings of God. It is also revealed that the little girl we see at the start of the movie is Narcissa, who at that time was known as “The Holy Girl of Parablasca.” Mother Superior (Luisa Merelas) also informs her that she’ll soon be entering into a union with God by taking her solemn vows under the supervision of the bishop, which, for some reason, Narcisa doesn’t appreciate. Narcisa is having serious doubts about taking her vows and believes she’s not ready to take such a great step. What happens next severely interferes with her confidence in her fellow sisters and shakes her to the very core.
What Visions Is Narcisa Having?
Things become interesting when Narcisa starts hearing strange whispers in her room. Not to mention, the chairs that move on their own further compound her stress. One fateful night, she hears a loud and distressing thud on her door, followed by the cries of a young girl who is calling for her mother. However, when Narcisa opens the door, the corridor is completely vacant. Her investigation leads her to a stairway going down to the cellar, wherein she finds a severed and decomposed hand wrapped in a white cloth. She brings this to Mother Superior’s attention, who informs her that the hand is a holy relic and belongs to Saint Martha, which has been lost since the war.
The following night, she encounters her Sister Sagario (Chelo Vivares), who forces her to eat human organs disguised as cupcakes. However, this was just a dream Narcisa was having while lying in bed. Narcisa also finds a strange drawing on the wall, which resembles a person hanging themselves, but Rosa, a student, advises her not to look at the drawing. With time, her visions start taking a toll on her faith and her work. No matter how hard she tries, Narcisa can’t shake the eerie visions of her rosary bleeding, a dead woman coming back to life and crawling on her hands with blood coming out of her mouth, and her Sister Sagario, with empty eye sockets, uttering a demonic laugh. Narcisa blames herself for her dwindling faith and even starts punishing herself by smacking herself with a rope.
What Happens To Rosa?
The same night, Rosa and her friends see an image of a girl in the bathtub who’s begging for help. They also find a clog of hair inside the bathroom. Rosa tries telling this to others but is instead blamed and slapped for cutting another girl’s hair. She tries convincing Julia (Maru Valdivielso) and Narcisa of her innocence, but it proves ineffective. Sister Julia even throws her into some sort of prison and advises others not to let her out. Narcisa visits Rosa and asks her about the girl she’s claiming to have seen in the bathroom. Rosa reveals that weeks ago, she told Sister Ines about the girl and advised her not to play with her or touch her drawings. However, Sister Ines didn’t believe Rosa and drew the last leg of the game of hangman (the drawing on the wall) to show the students that nothing would happen. But the girl wrote Ines’ name under that, making her leave the convent. Mother Superior, on the other hand, claims Rosa is lying and is creating absurd stories.
Narcisa dreams that Mother Superior has given her Ines’ dress to wear on the day of her vows. Unfortunately, when she leaves, the dress begins to tighten itself, waking Narcisa. Narcisa starts believing what Rosa is saying is true, and she’s not losing her mind. She requests that Rosa help her see the girl. Like Sister Ines, Narcisa and Rosa together draw the last leg of the hangman drawing. They also recite their prayers to protect themselves from what’s going to happen next. So, does Narcissa see the girl? At first, nothing happens, but soon, the chair begins to move. Rosa sees a different spirit standing behind Narcisa, who, for some reason, is not visible to her. Rosa says the spirit is talking to her, but before she can say anything, she disappears into thin air. Narcisa desperately tries to find her, but she’s nowhere to be found. She begs Sister Julia to help her, but the latter denies it and blatantly calls her a liar. Narcisa gets trapped inside a confession box, where a voice calls her selfish, claiming she has taken advantage of a young girl to satisfy her curiosity. Unfortunately, Narcisa finds Rosa dead with a noose tied around her neck.
What Happens To Socorro And Her Daughter?
Narcisa blames herself for Rosa’s death and leaves the school. Once outside, she spreads her hands across like a cross and looks at the sun, which is slowly being swallowed by a solar eclipse. The lunar phenomenon is also a recurring incident which was also portrayed in the 2017 film, after which Veronica, the titular character, started having visions of her father and was being haunted by an ominous entity. Soon after witnessing the solar eclipse and losing her sight, Narcisa starts having nightmares about the statue of Christ being burned and scores of men plundering the church and school. She also sees a man raping one of the nuns while she’s begging for the Lord to save her. Narcisa wakes up in her room and appears to have lost her vision. She tries telling Julia about what she saw earlier, but Julia chides her and claims she’s working with the devil. Julia never liked Narcisa and hated it when people put her on a pedestal while she was shoved aside. Once Julia leaves, Narcisa asks her sister Sagario to fetch her the cigar box hidden in her room. Inside the box is a photograph of sister Socorro (Almudena Amor) and some letters addressed to her. Sagario complies but leaves the room after Narcisa tells her that she knows what happened to her sister.
In reality, the woman Narcisa saw being raped in her visions was sister Socorro. Socorro became pregnant and, a year later, gave birth to a girl who was raised in the school. Unfortunately, one day, she caught a high fever, and Socorro begged her fellow sisters to take her to the hospital. But the sisters tried to treat her fever by putting her in the bathtub. In the struggle, the girl hit her head and died. The loss of her child was too much for Socorro to bear, and she hanged herself in the room. So, the girl who keeps crying in the hallway is Socorro’s daughter.
Now, Socorro has risen again, wanting to punish those who killed her daughter. Socorro begins her killing spree, and her sister Julia becomes her first victim. She meets her end by getting crushed under a huge statute. Sister Sagario is second, and Socorro drowns her in the same tub where her daughter breathed her last. The last one to fall is Mother Supreme, who is brutally killed in the classroom. Next, Socorro lifts her daughter’s body from the bathtub, and both mother and daughter bathe in a white light, suggesting that they’re now free. The movie then takes a giant leap, and we see Sister Narcisa, who has now grown old and has joined a new school as a literature teacher. Sister Death ends with Narcisa locking gaze with one of the students named Veronica and passing a friendly smile. The film, through this subtle scene, joins the missing dots with the 2017 original film.
While Sister Death may not shatter any barriers, it’s still an exhilarating and utterly entertaining ride that’ll have you glued to the screen. Say goodbye to your mobile devices, as there’s never a dull moment in sight. From the very first frame to the closing credits, this film skillfully propels the narrative forward, revealing the nuances of each character, whether it’s the unassuming Narcisa or the stern Sister Julia. You won’t find any pesky ghosts or spirits perpetually lurking behind doors or haunting dark corners.
Yet, Sister Death‘s haunting plots and subtle horrors creep up on you, cranking up the tension from start to finish. It’s like a finely tuned scare-o-meter that never veers into overkill territory, nor does it leave you wanting for more. In short, it’s a hauntingly splendid experience that’s neither too little nor too much. To sum up, if you are looking for a movie that will get your blood pumping and keep your brain engaged, this one is a perfect balance between too much and too little—a decent horror that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.