Sydney Sweeney's Horror Film 'Immaculate' Jump Scares SXSW Crowd

Fresh off her recent stint hosting “Saturday Night Live,” Sydney Sweeney made her way to Austin and SXSW for the world premiere of her new religious horror film “Immaculate” — and on Tuesday night, she had the crowd screaming (and laughing at their own reactions) at the Paramount Theatre.

The jump scares, in particular, had the entire theater jumping — and then giggling at their own fear. “Immaculate” leans into horror but also has plenty of moments of dark humor.

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“I think that you really truly care about the characters and story,” Sweeney said during the on-stage conversation after the screening. “Yes, we wanted you guys all to jump in your seats and be hopefully horrified shitless. But you still care about the story.”

Neon is behind “Immaculate,” while Sweeney also produced the movie with Black Bear and Middle Child Pictures. The film is set to be released on March 22.

Directed by Michael Mohan and written by Andrew Lobel, “Immaculate” centers Cecilia (Sweeney), a religious young nun who is offered a chance to move into an illustrious Italian convent. But her warm welcome to the European countryside is soon interrupted as Cecilia discovers her new home may be picturesque on the outside, but it harbors some dark and horrifying secrets.

RELATED: How Sydney Sweeney and Her ‘Immaculate’ Director Made Their Sexy, Gory Nun Movie as ‘F–king Extreme’ as Possible

Sweeney first auditioned for “Immaculate” a decade ago, but back then it was a very different movie. When she first auditioned, she and the main character were younger, still a a teenager, and it was set at a boarding school. “It wasn’t until years later that I think we really finally figured out what the movie needed to be and Mike and Sydney were integral on that,” Lobel said. “We drew from an entirely different section of movies, we start looking at classic nunsploitation movies, and suddenly the movie knew what it wanted to be at its core.”

The panel discussed the lush Italian setting, the cinematography and the costumes. For much of the film — spoiler alert (it’s in the title!) — Sweeney must wear a pregnancy belly. “It was a lot of fun,” she quipped. “I had a little pouch inside that had candy!”

Sweeney most recently starred in the rom-com “Anyone But You” opposite Glen Powell, and also appeared in the recent Marvel film “Madame Web.” “Immaculate” reps a reunion between Sweeney and director Mohan, as they previously worked together on the Netflix coming-of-age series “Everything Sucks!.”

“Immaculate” also stars Simona Tabasco (“The White Lotus”), Àlvaro Morte (“Money Heist”), Benedetta Porcaroli (“Baby”) and Dora Romano (“The Hand of God”), Giorgio Colangeli and Giampiero Judica.

Sweeney produced “Immaculate” with Jonathan Davino for Fifty-Fifty Films, alongside Middle Child Pictures’ David Bernad, who developed the project with Sweeney following their work together on “The White Lotus.”

Teddy Schwarzman and Michael Heimler produced for Black Bear, which fully financed and represented the international sales rights. Black Bear’s John Friedberg and Christopher Casanova served as executive producers on the film, alongside Will Greenfield. “Immaculate” marks the second recent collaboration with Neon and Black Bear after Michael Mann’s “Ferrari.”

Before the screening, a choir — along with the scary, red-face-covered nuns from the film — opened the evening with some religious hymns.

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