It’s common knowledge that when it comes to movies, it’s the characters and the story that really make or break them. Take, for example, the film The Witch from 2015. It didn’t rely on extravagant budget or fancy special effects. Instead, it thrived on one thing: its well-written characters. Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Thomas in The Witch was a sight for sore eyes. She carried the entire story, making it a captivating watch, even though there were rarely any supernatural elements.
Now, think about Sister Death. In this movie, Sister Narcisa is a character for the ages. She’s written so perfectly that her trials and tribulations within the convent feel like our own personal horror show, no matter if we’re inside the convent with her or five feet away from the TV. In layman’s terms, the characters are the secret sauce of cinema. Whether you’re making a big-budget blockbuster or writing a low-key indie flick, it’s the characters and their backgrounds that steal the spotlight.
Who Is Narcisa? Why Does She Join The Convent School?
Narcisa is introduced as a hermana (the Spanish word for sister) who has arrived at the remote school to teach literature to unprivileged kids. Narcisa used to be the talk of the town when she was a kid, and many hailed her as the “Holy Girl of Parablasca,” probably because she claimed to have seen God. Narcisa is of age, and she’s now supposed to take her solemn vows, but rather than being excited or joyful, she’s having some serious doubts. She believes she’s not ready and can’t convince herself to enter a holy union with Christ. She’s not sure this is her calling. She blames herself for her fragile faith by beating herself with a thick rope every night, asking why she’s having all those negative thoughts. She’s fearful that she’ll not be able to honor her vows and will end up becoming a bad nun.
Unlike a few of the nuns in the convent school, Narcisa is sympathetic toward the kids and treats them as family. She tends to their needs, shares heartfelt jokes, and even helps them with their chores. Her contemporary, Sister Julia, on the other hand, is entirely a different story. She’s strict and berates her students whenever they commit a mistake. She even has a small prison built inside the church, where she sends her students to teach them discipline. Rosa was one of the students who was subjected to her harsh methods and had to spend a couple of days without any food.
Why Did The Spirit Choose Narcisa As Her Medium?
Strange things begin to happen once Narcisa settles into her room. She begins hearing whispers, a loud thud on the door, and a girl crying in the hallway every night, but this is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what’s coming to her next. In her room, she finds a cigar box containing photographs of Sister Socorro and a few letters, which gives the impression that she left in a hurry. When Narcisa tries asking her fellow teachers about her, they fabricate lies, claiming she went to her village to tend to her old parents. Narcisa wants to believe them, but there’s always a lingering feeling in her heart suggesting that the teachers aren’t telling her everything.
One night, while lying in bed, Narcisa dreams of seeing Sister Sagario. She’s baking cupcakes and bread during ungodly hours. She offers Narcisa a bite, but soon blood starts coming out of her mouth. Narcisa pulls out the cake and shockingly finds that Sagario’s secret ingredient isn’t some special spices but human organs. Sister Sagario couldn’t help but let out an evil laugh. Her face is pitch black, and strangely, her eye sockets are empty. It’s a symbolic scene, showing that she was blind, even with eyes, to the wickedness unfolding within the school’s walls. It seems that the spirit is revealing these unsettling visions to Narcisa as a desperate plea for help. Perhaps it recognizes in her a rare purity, an absence of malevolence that sets her apart from the likes of Julia, Sagario, and Mother Superior.
Why Did Narcisa Decide To Leave The Convent?
Narcisa asks Rosa to help her make contact with the girl. Even though Rosa is hesitant, she eventually agrees. With their hands joined together, they complete the hangman drawing present in her room, but soon, things turn awry. To their surprise, instead of the girl, Sister Socorro materializes before them. Yet, strangely, Narcisa can’t see her, and before she can ask Rosa anything, Socorro takes Rosa with her, leaving Narcisa in confusion and fear. She desperately charts the entire convent looking for Rosa, but it is in vain, as she finds her hanging with a noose around her neck.
Sister Julia berates her and calls her selfish, claiming Rosa died because of her. Narcisa doesn’t argue and realizes she’s not built to serve God, as an innocent girl lost her life because of her. How could she be a faithful nun when she couldn’t even protect a girl who had placed her trust in her? Rosa lost her life because she believed in Narcisa, and the burden of that became too much for Narcisa to bear, making her leave the convent. However, the spirit can’t allow that, as she feels that Narcisa is the only person who can help her.
How Did Sister Narcisa Go Blind?
After Narcisa steps out of the school, she spreads her arms like a cross and experiences an unsettling vision while bathing in the sun, which is slowly being consumed by a solar eclipse. She starts having visions of the horror that unfolded in the place before it was turned into a school. Narcisa sees the soldiers attacking the school, stealing and setting fire to holy relics, including the holy cross. She also sees a soldier forcing himself on one of the nuns in the barn. The nun was in constant pain and was begging the soldier to spare her, but her pleas were falling on deaf ears. The nuns bring her inside to treat her, but Narcisa has already lost her sight because of constantly looking at the solar eclipse. Even now, Sister Julia chides her rather than tending to her injuries. Once she leaves, Sister Socorro appears inside her room and offers Narcisa flowers to show her what happened to her. Narcisa accepts the flowers and sees that Socorro wants to take revenge for her young daughter’s death. In reality, Socorro gave birth to a girl who died because of the nuns. They tried treating her fever, but couldn’t save her for an untimely death.
Grief-stricken and broken by the loss of her daughter, Socorro spiraled into depression, ultimately taking her own life. Since then, Sister Socorro’s spirit has been dallying inside the convent, awaiting someone who could help her find closure and seek justice for her daughter’s wrongful death. In the visions, she begs Narcisa to open the door and let her in. Narcisa sympathizes with her and allows her inside so she can get her revenge. Narcisa understands the moral gravity of her choice, but the idea of granting a grieving mother the chance for retribution proves too tempting for her to resist. At this point, Narcisa not only feels Socorro’s pain but also soaks up her desire for justice. She believes Socorro, too, has a right to punish those who played a part in her daughter’s death. Socorro satisfies her revenge and kills Julia, Sagario, and Mother Supremo.
Why Did Narcisa Become A Nun?
Sister Death fast-forwards into the future, and we see an older, cane-assisted Narcisa wearing the traditional black garb of a nun. This is surprising, considering Narcisa’s initial doubts about becoming a nun. So, why did she choose to take her vows? It was her encounter with Socorro that set her on the right path. Narisa had supernatural gifts—the ability to connect with spirits—and recognized that this was her true calling. Narcisa, now a nun, uses her unique talents to help the tormented souls that have suffered in pain and agony. It’s also possible that she chose this path to guide the young girls within the convent. She understands that many of them, like her in the past, are unsure about their true calling. In the final scene, we see a teacher introducing Narcisa to her students, telling them how Narcisa’s words and teachings helped her recognize her genuine calling, which was teaching children.