THE UNHOLY*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens in 1845 through the POV of a young woman. She is being hung from a tree and is having a mask nailed to her face before the townspeople light her on fire and speak an incantation while holding a doll to the woman’s face. Her charred corpse is left hanging from the tree hours later.
Present Day – In the town of Banfield, Massachusetts, disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gets a tip of something happening nearby. He goes to investigate because a farmer thinks that his cow has been marked by a cult, but Gerry figures that it was just the man’s son painting the Metallica M. Gerry then hears something that beckons him to a nearby tree, where he finds a burnt doll like the one seen in the last scene, and with the date of February 31st, 1845 engraved on it. Gerry then steps on the doll’s head and breaks it.
On his way out of town that night, Gerry drives out of town and swerves off the road when he sees a young woman, Alice Pagett (Cricket Brown), in the middle of the road. She approaches the same tree that Gerry went to earlier and mutters something before passing out. Gerry takes her to the home of Father Hagan (William Sadler), who is Alice’s uncle. He calls Dr. Natalie Gates (Katie Aselton), and it is revealed that Alice is deaf-mute, which means it would have been impossible for Gerry to hear her talk. Natalie accuses Gerry of trying to harm Alice.
Gerry sticks around Banfield to potentially get a story for his employers with a religious angle to it. He goes to church where Hagan preaches, and during the sermon, Alice stands up after staring at a statue of the Virgin Mary and starts walking out. The people follow her and watch as she goes to the tree. After standing there for a moment, Alice speaks again, surprising everyone. She claims she is hearing the voice of Mary herself, who is requesting through Alice that everyone return to the tree the next day. While Natalie runs tests on Alice, Gerry reports to his former employer, Monica Slade (Christine Adams). She reminds Gerry that he was fired for faking a story, and she doesn’t want to hear what he has to say. Gerry later has a dream of a ghostly woman rising from a nearby creek and crawling out.
The next day, the townspeople return to the tree to see if another miracle can be performed. A young paraplegic boy, Toby Walsh (Danny and Sonny Corbo), is brought forward. Alice speaks for Mary and tells Toby to walk. To the astonishment of everyone, the boy is able to do so. Gerry records the event. Everyone begins to pray to Mary. Inside the church, the statue of the Virgin Mary appears to cry blood.
Gerry meets Bishop Gyles (Cary Elwes), who is working with Monsignor Delgarde (Diogo Morgado), sent by The Vatican to investigate whether or not Alice really did perform a divine miracle. Alice herself becomes a media sensation, and the tree is set to become a shrine. Hagan goes to the tree and sees the doll on the ground, all while a ghostly apparition appears to stalk him.
Gerry sets up an interview with Alice, where she says that Mary told her that Gerry misses the power he used to have with his words, and that “she” saw someone in need of her help. Hagan comes to talk to Gerry in private, and he starts coughing heavily due to his emphysema. He comes to tell Gerry not to take advantage of Alice and exploit her for personal gains.
Gerry sits in at the church with Delgarde while Alice practices singing with Hagan. He starts to have a violent coughing episode where he collapses. As Gerry calls for an ambulance, Alice places her hand on Hagan’s chest, and he suddenly finds himself breathing normally again. Natalie later does an x-ray for Hagan and compares it to one from a while back where his condition looked far more severe. Now believing that Alice truly healed Hagan’s condition, the tree is officially declared a shrine, and Banfield starts to gain more tourism.
Gerry later talks to Natalie about the doll, where she tells him that those particular dolls are meant to be good luck but are also known for trapping evil things, putting the impossible date (February 31st) to keep them inside forever. They then walk by the same creek he saw in his dream, and he once again sees the apparition. When he tells Natalie he wants to see Hagan, we cut to Hagan in the church after smoking a cigarette. He goes to the confessional where he hears the apparent voice of Mary (Marina Mazepa) condemning him because she healed him and he repaid her with doubt over the miracle. Hagan steps out and is confronted by Mary’s ghost, who attacks him. When Gerry goes to the church, he finds Hagan hung by the neck in an apparent suicide. After the medics take his body out, Gerry speaks to Gyles, who asks him to keep quiet on the notion that a man of the cloth took his own life.
Gerry interviews Alice again, and after reviewing the footage later that night, he slows down the footage to reveal something hidden: Mary’s ghost briefly flashing.
During Hagan’s funeral, Gerry and Natalie look in the church’s basement where they find documents in Latin about demons and witches. They find a written piece on Mary Elnor, who was a healer in her time, but anybody who doubted her would meet a grim fate. The townspeople turned on Mary, who confessed to working for Satan. She had the mask of the Virgin Mary nailed to her face and was burnt to death while trapping her spirit in the doll that Gerry broke. Alice stands up during the service and tells the people that Mary wants them to gather at the shrine for a special service. Gerry and Natalie are then found and attacked by Mary’s ghost, but they escape the church and head off to warn Alice.
Gerry and Natalie go to the Archdiocese of Boston to Gyles and Delgarde to show them Hagan’s findings on Mary, but while Gyles knew about this, Delgarde notes he was never told about it, and Gyles doesn’t want anything to stop the service. Gerry later does more research on Mary and learns that before she died, she had a child that was adopted by a man named Nicholas Pagett, which means Alice is Mary’s descendant, and Mary made a deal with the devil to live on through her children and their children and so on. Gerry is attacked by Mary’s ghost again, but Delgarde wards her off, now convinced of what Gerry was talking about.
As Gyles gets the shrine service in order, Delgarde joins Gerry and Natalie in going to the church to bless the doll and attempt to return Mary’s spirit into the doll. When Delgarde lights it on fire, the flames spread up to the large cross on the wall, which falls off and impales Delgarde, setting him on fire as well. Gerry and Natalie run out and head over to the service.
The service is well underway, with Mary set to take in all the townspeoples’ faith to become more powerful. Gerry and Natalie get there and realize that the only way to stop Mary is to get everyone in attendance to doubt her power. Gerry tells the crowd that he faked the whole thing and that Alice is not really a healer. He makes up some facts about what happened with her being able to hear and Toby walking, but claims those are just medical effects. With Natalie joining in, the crowd starts to boo and renounce their faith. Mary is pissed and begins to set the tree on fire. The people run out just as her ghost emerges and tries to attack. Toby loses control of his legs again, and Natalie carries him out to safety. Gyles attempts to subdue the spirit, but Mary presses her hand against his chest and disintegrates him. When she goes after Gerry, Alice stands in the way and takes the hit. With Mary having killed her last descendant, her spirit can no longer live on, and she screams as she fades into oblivion. Gerry holds Alice’s body and tearfully prays to God for her survival. She then wakes up, and Gerry hugs her.
Gerry and Natalie go with Alice to Hagan’s grave to honor him. Although Alice is once again deaf-mute, Gerry finds a way to communicate with her. He tells Natalie that he is stunned that Alice survived since she had no pulse and wasn’t breathing when he held her, but Natalie thinks maybe God really did work a miracle. After they leave, we see a verse from Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” The last thing we see is the statue of the Virgin Mary crying blood again.
In the town of Banfield, Massachusetts, journalist Gerry Fenn comes across a tree with a mysterious doll and breaks it. He later meets a girl named Alice Pagett, who is known as being deaf-mute, but after going near the tree, she speaks and claims to hear the voice of the Virgin Mary telling her to speak to the townspeople and perform miracles. After healing a paraplegic boy and her uncle, the town's priest Father Hagan, from his emphysema, the townspeople believe Alice is a healer, and the tree becomes a shrine.
After doing some research, Gerry and Dr. Natalie Gates learn that the doll that Gerry broke was used to imprison the spirit of a woman named Mary Elnor, who had healing powers but was working through Satan, so the townspeople nailed a mask to her face and burned her alive while trapping her spirit in the doll. Furthermore, she made a deal with the devil to continue living on through her descendants, and Alice is the current descendant. Hagan is killed by Mary's ghost when he goes back to smoking after she healed him, while Monsignor Delgarde from The Vatican is killed in the church when trying to return Mary's spirit to the doll.
Gerry and Natalie go to a service at the shrine where Mary plans to use Alice to gain more power through the townspeoples faith. Gerry and Natalie convince the crowd that Alice is a fraud, which angers Mary and unleashes her ghost. She kills the scheming Bishop Gyles after he tries to intervene, but when she goes after Gerry, Alice steps in the way and takes Mary's hit. Having killed her descendant, Mary can no longer live and her spirit is destroyed. Gerry prays for Alice's survival, and she wakes up. However, it is implied through an image of the Virgin Mary statue crying blood that this means Mary can still come back.