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“Immaculate” star Sydney Sweeney explains “that” 'animatronic thing' and the gonzo, bloody ending

Luckily for her vocal cords, Sweeney nailed the horror film's wild finale in the first take.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Immaculate.

Sydney Sweeney has a secret, and she's not telling.

In her new horror film, Immaculate, she plays Cecilia, an American nun who joins a remote convent in the Italian countryside and, soon after her arrival, somehow becomes pregnant despite having never had sex. While the nuns and priests at the convent consider it a miracle, Cecilia quickly learns the unholy nature of her situation: A mad scientist priest has taken DNA from a nail supposedly from Jesus' crucifixion and is using the nuns' bodies as vessels to try to give birth to what he hopes is a clone of the Savior — only it's never actually worked.

The film ends with her murdering anyone in her path to try to escape the convent, while in labor, of course. Once outside the convent walls, she gives birth to something — we never actually see what it is before she clobbers it with a massive rock... and a wild scream of catharsis. Whatever it is never cries, it just breathes very, very ominously.

"We have ideas in our head, but we're never going to discuss it," Sweeney tells Entertainment Weekly when pressed about what it is Cecilia gives birth to.

In the background of one shot, a sinister dark lump can be seen in the corner of the frame, and the star confirms they did have "an animatronic thing that was there," but is choosing, along with director Michael Mohan, not to reveal what it looked like in hopes that the audience will come to their own conclusion. She does reveal, though, that they did film takes where this "animatronic thing" was shown.

<p>Neon/Courtesy of Everett</p> Sydney Sweeney in the final scene of 'Immaculate'

Neon/Courtesy of Everett

Sydney Sweeney in the final scene of 'Immaculate'

"We shot it multiple ways. What you see is actually the first take that we shot, and then we did two more that covered our bases in case we wanted to show different angles, but our instinct was always to never show it, and so we went with our first take," Sweeney explains, adding they got those extra shots "for testing and financial reasons."

That perfect first take — prolonged, gut-wrenching scream and all — was not rehearsed in advance, says Sweeney: "It was kind of one of those moments where we blocked the camera out and then Mike was like, 'Okay, Syd, what do you think you want to do?' And I was like, 'Let's just go for it and see what happens.' And then that's what happened."

As for the wild murder spree that precedes the birth, Sweeney says her character realized it was her only option during the confessional with the Cardinal toward the end of the film — yes, the one when her fingernail comes off. "When she says, 'This is not God's plan.' And then he leans in and he says, 'If this is not the will of God, then why does God not stop us?' She in that moment realized that she is going to have to stop them herself, and so the only way to stop them and to escape was to murder her way out," Sweeney says.

<p>Fabio Lovino /Neon/Courtesy of Everett</p> Sydney Sweeney in 'Immaculate'

Fabio Lovino /Neon/Courtesy of Everett

Sydney Sweeney in 'Immaculate'

The star, who also produced the film, says it's been so satisfying watching these blood-soaked moments with an audience. Laughing, she says, "It was great. At our [Los Angeles] premiere and at the South by Southwest premiere, people were cheering during that, and I was like, okayyy."

Immaculate, which also stars Álvaro Morte, Simona Tabasco, Benedetta Porcaroli, Giorgio Colangeli, and Dora Romano, is in theaters now.

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